In a short, difficult stage, Tinkoff-Saxo drove the peloton all day long, leaving Orica-GreenEDGE’s Michael Matthews fresh to take the sprint win and keep the pink jersey, with Trek’s Fabio Felline and Philippe Gilbert taking second and third. But the result is secondary to what happened on the road today.
Rider of the day
On the descent of the Barbagelata, Ag2r GC hopeful Domenico Pozzovivo‘s front wheel slipped out from under him, causing him to go down hard on his face and knocking him unconscious. For anyone who saw the events unfold around Wouter Weylandt‘s death on the road four years ago (on the Rapallo stage no less), seeing a rider go down and stay down is extremely sobering.
The fact that Italian television seemed to have no qualms in continuing to show the harrowing scene of concerned paramedics and doctors preparing the rider for the ambulance did not help. Fortunately, the end was very different to four years ago and the Giro’s official doctor reported that Pozzovivo was not in any critical danger and was lucid and talking by the time he got to hospital. But it does make your stomach turn – and it does remind you how dangerous this sport can be.
Three things we noticed
1. Tinkoff-Saxo’s tactics. Alberto Contador’s team were on the front of the peloton all stage long, keeping the break within reach and driving hard when the catch had to be made. They set the pace high, shelling riders on every climb and giving the maglia rosa‘s team and the whole of Astana a free ride to the finish. Tinkoff’s goal was obviously keeping their man safe but are they going to ride like that for three weeks? Makes for dull viewing.
2. Kiryienka and Henao dropped. Sky’s climbers got shelled out the back on the cat 2 Barbagelata – not the easiest of climbs with a 7% average gradient but it’s certainly not the hardest they’ll encounter in this race. Perhaps they were hoping to ride into perfect form in a quietish first week and today’s relentless pace caught them out. Was that Tinkoff’s tactics? Only time will tell if today was the first glimmer of Sky weakness or if it will be forgotten by week three.
3. Juan Antonio Flecha. The peloton’s loss is Eurosport’s gain with the Spanish ex-pro dashing hither and yon to catch riders’ reactions before and after the stage and giving us unique insight into what the riders might be thinking and feeling. Hell, he even took us down the Barbagelata descent in a bright orange jersey that you could see from space! He’s smart, he’s positive, and he has a real rapport with the riders – anyone who can nab Mick Jagger before he even gets his time trial helmet off for a few words after the first stage and not be told to bugger off is a man who knows his riders. The only thing I’m wondering about The Flecha is: when are those pink jeans going to make a comeback?
Stage 3 result
1. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) 3:33:53
2. Fabio Felline (Trek) same time
3. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) s/t
4. Sergey Lagutin (Katusha) s/t
5. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) s/t
1. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) 8:06:27
2. Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0:06
3. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenDGE) +0:10
4. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t
5. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:17
6. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) s/t
7. Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) s/t
8. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) +0:23
9. Fabio Aru (Astana) s/t
10. Diego Rosa (Astana) s/t
Points leader: Elia Viviani (Sky).
King of the Mountains leader: Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha).
Best young rider: Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Team classification: Orica-GreenEDGE.
Link: Official race website