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Sarah Gigante and Richie Porte (both Garmin-Australia) have taken memorable victories atop Willunga Hill on stage 3 of the Santos Festival of Cycling.
Twenty-year-old Gigante, who was leading all four classifications after her solo stage win yesterday – the race overall, best young rider, the QOM classification, and the sprint competition – attacked from the bunch at the base of Willunga Hill and quickly opened a sizeable lead.
No one was able to get close, not even WorldTour climber Lucy Kennedy (BikeExchange) who was second across the line, a full minute behind a rampaging Gigante. Nicole Frain (Sydney Uni Staminade) took third, despite briefly following a race vehicle off course and missing out on a few seconds to her rivals. She would likely have moved into third overall were it not for that mishap.
Gigante now leads the race by more than three minutes going into tomorrow’s final-stage circuit race around Adelaide.
In the men’s race a breakaway of nine led proceedings for much of the day, but was eventually reeled in on the lower slopes of Willunga Hill. WorldTour climber Chris Harper (Cervelo-Tonsley Village) was the first to attack, but it wasn’t long before Porte, a six-time winner on Willunga, came to the fore and hit the front.
Porte had attacked earlier than normal but was soon able to open a gap and looked to be sailing to yet another solo stage win. But inside the final kilometre his 20-year-old teammate Luke Plapp, winner of yesterday’s stage 2, bridged across and joined Porte. Plapp allowed Porte to take the stage win, applauding his 35-year-old teammate as Team Garmin-Australia locked up an impressive 1-2 finish.
Stage 1 winner Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange) finished third at just eight seconds behind and will retain his overall lead by two minutes going into Sunday’s final stage.
The Santos Festival of Cycling is a four-stage National Road Series (NRS) race for men and women, contested by domestic riders and a handful of WorldTour professionals. It is being held in lieu of the Santos Tour Down Under, an event cancelled due to quarantine and border restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.