Cycling: Cardoso wins third stage of Tour Down Under
By STEVE McMORRAN
AP Sports Writer
ADELAIDE, Australia — Portuguese national champion Manuel Cardoso won the arduous third stage of the Tour Down Under on Thursday while Lance Armstrong ended a day of sapping heat 30th on the stage and 26th overall.
Temperatures rose to 104 degrees on the 82-mile stage between Unley in suburban Adelaide and Stirling in hills east of the city.
Armstrong rode near the head of the peleton throughout the undulating stage and was credited with a time one second behind Cardoso's winning mark of 3 hours, 14 minutes, 38 seconds.
"It was hot, definitely hot," Armstrong said. "It takes a toll on everybody. You can see guys suffering and when you see the salt on everybody's jersey, you know it's a tough day."
Spanish star Alejandro Valverde took second place in Thursday's stage while world road racing champion and two-time Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans was third. Evans moved up to seventh place on general classification, defying his own assertion the first event of the ProTour season didn't suit his "capacities."
Germany's Andre Greipel also finished among the leading bunch, one second down on Cardoso, to hold onto the tour leader's ocher jersey for United States-based Team Columbia. His overall time of 9 hours, 53 minutes, 38 seconds put him 14 seconds ahead of New Zealander Greg Henderson — 31st in Thursday's stage — and Belgian Gert Steegmans of Armstrong's Team Radioshack.
Valverde moved into fourth place on general classification, also 14 seconds down on Greipel's time. The 29-year-old Spaniard, riding for Caisse D'Espargne, has been banned from riding in Italy for alleged anti-doping violations.
Valverde has appealed the Italian ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A final decision is due in March.
United States road champion George Hincapie, who was Armstrong's lieutenant in all seven of his Tour de France victories, crashed early in Thursday's stage, then rode courageously to finish 21st among 130 riders who finished at Stirling.
Hincapie, riding with Evans for the Swiss-owned BMC Racing Team, needed medical attention after his fall and had to work hard to catch the peleton.
Thursday's stage, which included a stiff climb up Wickhams Hill, fully tested riders, many of whom are competing in their first race of the season after coming from a northern hemisphere winter.
"You know what makes this race hard, or harder and harder it seems, is the riders," Armstrong said. "Unless you tell everybody not to start training until Jan. 1st you wouldn't have it so hard.
"You have this mix of the fact it's now ProTour, you have new teams and new sponsors, worldwide exposure like this, young guys who want to show a little bit early on. All that comes together and makes up a hard race.
"And that also means guys who care about the summer and fall and so there is this intersection of a bunch of different priorities that makes it really hard too."
Armstrong had forecast that Thursday's race would be a tough physical test and less suited to sprinters such as Greipel who dominated the first two days.
"As you saw it was not a stereotypical sprint. I remember from last year it was hard," he said.
"I guess I felt better this year and I was better positioned. You might get 30 or 40 back and someone opens a gap and it's hard to come around them.
"On a day like this you've got to stay up front if you want to maintain your (general classification). That wasn't my priority. I just wanted to stay up there and see if we could pick off one maybe with (Gert) Steegmans."