Cycling | 18 januari 2018

Gesink jumps into top ten of Tour Down Under’s general classification

Stage three of the Santos Tour Down Under has ended in a bunch sprint and this did not hold back Robert Gesink at all to jump into the top ten of the race’s general classification. With both decisive stages yet to come, the Dutchman moved up to ninth. In extremely high temperatures, Gesink finished 13th today. Coincidentally, that’s also the place George Bennett has taken in the GC.

The race organisers decided to shorten today's stage by 26 kilometres due to the extreme weather. The air temperature topped at 42 degrees while the road temperature was hotter still. Despite the conditions, the race time for the shortened 120-kilometre route was shorter than expected. The course did not turn out very spectacular however. That’s nothing to worry about as the excitement is yet to come. The riders with ambitions for the GC know that they have a job to do in the next two days. “The race starts tomorrow”, Bennett said. 

Just one month ago, the Kiwi underwent surgery to cure him from side stitches. His current racing level is quite incredible from that point of view. “It's been crazy how fast it all came back”, he admitted. “I haven't been able to really test it yet, but I think I’ll know whether the problem has really been solved or not after the next two days. I'm optimistic about it.”

Bennett is not the only comeback kid of Team LottoNL-Jumbo. Down Under, Gesink celebrates his revival too after he crashed out of the Tour de France last summer with a broken vertebra. “I’m feeling very well in the heat. Tomorrow’s stage won’t hide anything, but so far so good. I’m improving every day. I’m finding my way through the peloton quite easily.”

He showed this in Victor Harbor, where he sprinted flat out till the very last centimetre. “Tom Leezer did a fantastic job by bringing me in a good position upfront. The other guys helped me out with water the whole day, as drinking is the only way to be able to keep performing. The stage wasn’t spectacular, but tomorrow it will surely be different. It will be tough all day long, with a fight from man to man in the final. We know the roads; there will be a lot of climbing. I’m feeling good and George is very eager too. We will give it our best and hopefully that suffices to compete with the favourites.”


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