- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) - Former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans seized the overall lead in the Tour Down Under by winning Thursday’s third stage with a daring break on a corkscrew climb and descent.

Evans broke away near the end of the 145-kilometer (90-mile) stage from Norwood to Campbelltown, winning by 14 seconds from a group of 11 riders which included Australian compatriot Simon Gerrans and Italy’s Diego Ulissi who had started the day first and second on general classification.

With a 10 second time bonus for his stage win, Evans surged into the overall lead, 12 seconds ahead of Gerrans and 15 seconds ahead of Ulissi in third place.

The demanding third stage of the six-stage tour was always going to be decided at the precipitous corkscrew 10 kilometers (6.3 miles) from the finish line, with gradients reaching 15 degrees on the hairpin bends.

Evans, the 2011 Tour de France winner, attacked at the right moment, breaking away with Richie Porte and, showing his nerve and superior bike-handling skill on the descent, went clear of Porte and Gerrans to claim the stage victory and tour lead.

Australian Nathan Haas emerged to finish second on the stage and Ulissi third.

“I had an idea of what we might have an opportunity to do,” Evans said. “It’s always might, if, maybe but in this sport when you take a chance, when you have an opportunity you have to run with it.

“Right through the last 300 metres, I wasn’t sure that I had it and I still don’t know what the time gap is. In the end the move for me was for GC (general classification) actually. Stage wins aside it’s great, but GC’s what we’re really here for.”

Evans praised fellow riders in his US-based BMC team for playing a role in his stage win.

“We’ve been training well,” he said. “We have a really solid group here.”

The stage featured an early four-man breakaway by Australian Travis Meyer, German veteran Jens Voigt, Ukrainian Andriy Grivko and France’s Jerome Cousine. Grivko, who started the stage 21 seconds down on race-leader Gerrans, was the only member of the group in serious contention on general classification.

Cousine was the first to drop back to the bunch after 92 kilometers and the remaining three riders were swallowed up by the peleton with 16 kilometers (10 miles) to go.

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