Giro d’Italia delivers a gale force finish at stage 3
The final day on the island of Sardinia certainly produced a dramatic finale to three days of spectacular scenery and aggressive racing.
The wind on stage three into Cagliari, was extreme with gusts in excess of 70 kph. Everyone knew that the Quickstep team would light it up in the final 20 km, when a change of direction turned what had been a full-on tail wind into a damaging gale force side wind, not many could do much about it.
The Belgian team is recognized as the masters of riding in strong winds and they certainly served up a masterclass here. With seven riders at the front, the Quickstep boys just put it in the gutter and left everyone groveling in their wake. Race leader Andre Greipel was one of the few stars to get into the select 12 at the front, but pulled his foot from the pedal and lost the chance to keep his pink leaders jersey.
Nathan Haas showed that he is in sparkling form, as he forced his way into that front group. The young Aussie riding for South African team Dimension Data took advantage of the Quickstep led breakaway, and his late attack in the final few hundred meters almost upset the script. But by this stage the wind was directly into the riders faces, and his bold move saw him fall just short of the podium.
Orica Scott tried to limit the damage and worked hard at the front of the chasing peloton, but the gap hovered around the 15 to 20 second mark, and although Caleb easily won the sprint, in it was the young Colombian he had clashed with the previous day, Fernando Gaviria, who took the stage and the race lead.
All of the race favourites managed to stay in the main peloton, but the biggest loser for the day, especially from an Australian point of view, was Rohan Dennis. The youngster from BMC crashed just as the Quickstep team had split the race apart, and he lost more than 5 minutes.
Today the race moves to Sicily and will host the first real battle between the race favourites, as the riders finish at the summit of Mt Etna. The 181 kilometer stage from Cefalu also has a 30 km climb at the half way point, so there are sure to be plenty of fireworks.
Pictures: Vaz Juchima