The tables were turned at the third stage of the 2023 ΔΕΗ Tour of Hellas which started from the famous Costa Navarino resort and ended in the Messenian city, Kyparissia.
For the first time since the revival of the Tour in 2022, following a ten-year hiatus, the leader has changed!
Iuri Leitao of Caja Rural drew strength and significant help from his teammates, despite falling back after the first uphill sprint and managed to gain a valuable bonus second in the first intermediate sprint in Foinikounda.
Leitao went all the way to cross the finish line first in the city centre of Kyparissia and took the 10-second additional bonus to beat Aaron Gate’s (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) overall time by a mere one second!
Stage 3 brought double joy to Leitao, as he also went on top of the points classification and now holds the Tour’s blue and the red jersey as well. The amazing story behind the Portuguese rider is that he wasn’t meant to participate in the Tour of Hellas and he was a late addition to the squad following the withdrawal of a sick teammate.
Cypriot Andreas Miltiadis enjoyed a fantastic day as well. Twelve-time national champion Miltiadis followed the first breakout of twenty riders and snatched ten points from the cat. 1 KoM in Poros. With a total of 20 points he took a significant lead in his quest to hold onto the orange jersey until the Tour finale, as Bike Aid's Dawit Yemane trails 12 points behind.
Only one Tour jersey did not change hands, the white one for the best U23 rider, which still belongs to Logan Curry of Bolton Equities Black Spoke. The New Zealander has built a huge 25-second gap that it will be hard for the rest of the bunch to bridge.
There were multiple attacks and breakaways at the 153 km-long stage, with the first cat. 1 KoM ahead. Before the crucial uphill, many riders were involved in a minor, casualty-free mass fall in a challenging turn in Pylos.
All attacks and breakaway efforts were easily dealt by the peloton. Tomáš Jakoubek took two points from the intermediate sprint at Kalamata Airport to temporarily move ahead in the points standings, but Leitao saved the best for last in the final sprint.
Action culminats at the last stage, from Costa Navarino to Ancient Olympia. Leitao starts with a scant one-second lead over Gate and six over Rory Townsend, who finished second in stage 3, behind stage 2 winner Timothy Dupont of Tarteletto - Isorex.
“Everything went well and I got the orange jersey, which I hope to keep until the end. Additionally, I am close to the GC leader, only 15 seconds behind, so I have a double mission to fulfill.
“I am very satisfied with my results so far, but the Tour is not over yet."
“It was not a great day for us, we are disappointed we didn’t get time bonuses during the stage.
“Ahead of the final stage we have three different options (i.e. Gate, Townsend and himself) we can place, we can all go for the sprint.
“I am not a natural sprinter. Wwe are going to see breakaways and stuff, so if I see the opportunity I will try to sneak away”.
«It’s super nice winning the stage and picking up the general classification.
“Our tactic was risky because the sprint was at the bottom of a climb and I dropped but the team went back to pick me up. Our rivals went for the sprint and went full gas and I was suffering because I spent too much energy.
With 500 metres until the finish the last corner was important to be in the front and my teammates managed to put me in the first position.
“We will do everything we can to won the GC. Our rivals want the same so it will be super hard”.