Stage profile: Another flat stage, ending in a few circuits around Horsens set up perfectly for another bunch sprint.
Top three: 1. Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) 2. J J Haedo (Saxo Bank) 3. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda).
Who was in the breakaway?: Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM), Reto Hollenstein (NetApp), Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda). They were never allowed more than 3:25, and despite a late attack – again! – by Lotto-Belisol’s Danish rider Lars Bak, the race was gruppo compatto with 11km remaining.
How the stage was won: A bunch sprint was inevitable, but none of the teams was willing (or able) to commit to a full-chat lead-out. Sky’s train ran out of steam, neither Saxo Bank nor Raobobank could exert control, and it was left to a well-timed move by Orica-GreenEDGE at 800 metres to force the issue. The red points jersey of Mark Cavendish found himself down in about 11th and was forced to open up his sprint 275 metres out, but Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela’s Roberto Ferrari suddenly veered to the right in front of him at 150 metres, clipping his front wheel and treating him to a healthy dose of road rash while Matt Goss outpowered J J Haedo and Tyler Farrar to claim his first individual victory of 2012. Overall leader Taylor Phinney was also unseated in the crash. Even without Ferrari’s intervention, it looked like Goss had position over Cav on this occasion.
Quotes of the day: Understandably, there was a lot of opinion voiced about Ferrari’s car crash of a move after the stage. Here’s the measured reaction of Eurosport’s David Harmon:
Absolutely appalling sprinting by Roberto Ferrari, you can’t pull a move like that in a sprint, it’s going to cause a pile up. Full stop
— david harmon (@spokesmen) May 7, 2012
And here’s what a rather more forthright Geraint Thomas had to say:
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) May 7, 2012
Odd occurrences: The maglia rosa was awarded to a 10-year old boy, while Taylor Phinney was being attended to in an ambulance. About half an hour later, Phinney was spraying champagne on the podium when he was awarded the big boy’s jersey. (The little boy gets to keep the cuddly toy, I suspect.) There was a question over Phinney being able to keep the pink jersey if he didn’t actually cross the finish line with his bike unaided, but UCI rules state that if crash occurred in last 3km and a cyclist has to cross the finish line in an ambulance, he is last in the stage but awarded time of the group he was in when he crashed.
VeloVoices villain of the day: Having brought down two race jerseys, Roberto Ferrari was unrepentant in his comments to Italian media. (His team manager Gianni Savio has promised to apologise to Cavendish himself, which tells you everything about Ferrari’s attitude.) The commissaires relegated him to last place on the stage but, surprisingly, took no further action. [Hmm, Italian race, Italian team, Italian sprinter? – Ed.] Replays showed he had abruptly deviated by at least two metres – his actions were not deliberately dangerous but undoubtedly reckless. It was an unsavoury way to end a day which had started with a tribute to Wouter Weylandt, who died in an accident on stage three last year.
VeloVoices unsung hero: Farnese Vini’s Elia Favilli, who had the presence of mind and bike-handling skills to bunny-hop over a laid-out Cavendish, at speed. Chapeau!
1. Taylor Phinney (BMC) 9:23:41
2. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0:09
3. Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:13
4. Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank) +0:15
5. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:18
Points leader: Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE)
King of the Mountains leader: Alfred Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia)
Tomorrow: Rest day and transfer back to Italy. Stage four is on Wednesday, a 33.2km team time trial around Verona.
And here is Cycling the Alps‘ fly-over of the route:
Link: Official website