ADELAIDE, Australia — Elia Viviani of Italy won the third stage of the Tour Down Under cycle race on Thursday, passing tour leader Caleb Ewan at the end of a stage shortened because of extreme heat.
Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) as riders raced from Glenelg to Victor Harbour on the South Australian coast. Viviani kept his cool at the finish, coming from well back to overtake Ewan who started and ended the day with a 10-second overall lead.
Ewan retained the overall lead while Viviani moved past Daryl Impley into second place. Jay McCarthy is in fourth place with three of six stages remaining while triple world champion Peter Sagan, who was fifth on the stage, is also fifth overall, 16 seconds behind Ewan.
The stage was to be 146.5 kilometres (91 miles) but organizers shortened it to 120.5 kilometres when temperatures soared to 38 degrees before the start. Friday’s 128.2 kilometre fourth stage from Norwood to Uraidla will start an hour early in cooler conditions.
"It was a really hot day and a hot race," Viviani said. "With the heat you’re already out by the end but you have to conserve all the energy you can and refresh yourself until, for me, 200 metres to go and you try to be in a good position.
"The guys at the front did and amazing job and the feeling was good on the team."
Viviani trained on the track in his leadup to the Tour Down Under, the first race of the World Tour Season, to improve his speed.
"I always train on the track and we come here 10 days before the race and I think in these 10 days it’s also good to do some speed work," he said. "I try to listen to my body and in that moment I felt that I need some speed to do and that gave me the speed I need for today."
Ewan may regret losing an opportunity to consolidate his lead. He took over the tour leader’s jersey from Germany’ Andre Greipel, who won the opening stage, when he won the second stage on Wednesday, though it’s uphill finish wasn’t ideal for sprinters.
Thursday’s stage was perfectly set up for Ewan but Viviani executed a perfect tactical finish.
The stage saw an early breakaway by Scott Bowden of Australia, who won both intermediate sprints, and Nicholas Dlamini of South Africa who consolidated his lead in the King of the Mountains classification.