Fernando Gaviria of UAE Team Emirates has won stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia after Elia Viviani of Deceuninck-Quick Step was relegated from the win for deviating from his line. Gaviria took the win ahead of Arnaud Demare of Groupama-FDJ and Pascal Ackermann of BORA-Hansgrohe.
At 220km in length, the roads from Vinci to Orbetello, although long, would still not be the longest of the race’s stages; with a handful of stages set to exceed 230km. Today’s stage contained a fair deal of climbing, although it was interesting that only one of the climbs was given a categorisation in the Poggio l’Apparita with 38.5km to go. Perhaps for that reason there was a general reluctance from riders to get into the breakaway, with only one rider opting to go up the road in the form of Sho Hatsuyama of Nippo Vini Fantini Falzanè.
The 30 year old, in his second season at ProContinental level was in for a long and lonely day in the saddle at the head of the race, with precious little by way of reward to come his way aside from potentially the one KOM climb and two intermediate sprints. Nevertheless the Japanese rider was not shy of the task at hand and with 173km of racing remaining he’d built a lead of around 4.50mins.
At the head of the race Jack Bauer and his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates were among those taking responsibility less for the chase effort and more for simply keeping his leader – Simon Yates – out of harm’s way. Also with them at the front were the likes of Team Ineos, Katusha-Alpecin and Astana.
Throughout the day Hatsuyama’s lead would yo-yo around anywhere from 3 minutes to 4.30mins on the run in to the intermediate sprint. Interestingly it was Groupama-FDJ who took the initiative in the peloton to contest the intermediate sprint for Arnaud Demare. The Frenchman was not challenged for second place across the line. After the sprint normal service resumed at the front of the peloton, and the intensity really dropped, allowing Hatsuyama to build a lead that topped 7 minutes with 133km remaining.
Behind him Thomas De Gendt took the lead at the head of the peloton, with Israel Cycling Academy and Jumbo-Visma – with race leader Primož Roglič in their ranks – also showing interest at the front of the race. They cut into Hatsuyama’s lead a little, still allowing him a lead of 4.46mins with 100km to go. But the calibre of the riders behind him carried with it a sense of the inevitable for Hatsuyama; who would nevertheless enjoy the award for the most aggressive rider today if nothing else.
Over the next 25km the Japanese rider’s lead would be completely evaporated and with 75km to go it was once again gruppo compacto with Jack Bauer on the front for Mitchelton-SCOTT alongside trains from Groupama-FDJ, Movistar and Lotto Soudal; the latter pulled along by Victor Campenaerts the newly crowned world hour record holder.
For a time then it looked like this would be it for the rest of the stage, with no one willing to throw caution to the wind and attack. The peloton appeared content to simply saunter their way onwards towards the finish although the second intermediate sprint did make matters a little messy, with Groupama-FDJ again getting up for the points with Demare.
From here BORA-Hansgrohe paid more careful attention to the goings on at the front of the bunch but still no attack went clear. On the KOM climb it looked like a truce was made and Giulio Ciccone of Trek-Segafredo was allowed to move to the front and take maximum points.
With 20km remaining the pace in the peloton looked to be climbing. Deceuninck-Quick Step were well positioned just off the front of the peloton with them and a number of other sprint contenders happy to just sit behind some of the more GC-focussed teams. Through 10km to go and it was a five-way battle for the front of the peloton as Deceuninck-Quick Step moved forward on the right hand side of the road alongside Jumbo-Visma.
As Bahrain-Merida took the lead with 5km to go a crash with 5km to go brought down James Knox of Deceuninck-Quick Step along with a number of Team Ineos riders and Katusha-Alpecin’s Enrico Battaglin. This resulted in a reduced bunch contesting the finale, with Mitchelton-SCOTT and Jumbo-Visma the constants at the front of the peloton alongside the sprinters’ teams.
The Israel Cycling Academy were interestingly present with 3km to go, so too Astana and Trek-Segafredo as the race sped through 2km to go. The melee at the front of the ace meant that the likes of Viviani, Ewan and Gaviria found themselves a little way back, but not looking in trouble as the dynamic nature of the peloton meant that in a few metres it was just as likely that they could find themselves at the front. With 1km to go Groupama-FDJ and UAE Team Emirates took on the pace-setting at the front of the race with Bob Jungels of Deceuninck-Quick Step putting in a big turn for Viviani who now came forward to seventh wheel.
Pascal Ackermann was also very well positioned and through the final corner it was the German in the best position on the wheel of Arnaud Demare. Ackermann struck for home first with Viviani on his wheel. The Italian launched off of his wheel and made it look pretty comfortable as he raced to the win in front of a very satisfied home crowd. Gaviria took second place with Demare third and Ackermann fourth; but there was drama still to come.
In the sprint for the line before launching passed Gaviria, Viviani was found to have impeded the sprint of Trek-Segafredo’s Matteo Moschetti. The decision meant that Viviani was relegated to 73rd place with Gaviria getting the win.
Jack Bauer, present throughout the day towards the front for Simon Yates, crossed the line 33rd on the stage in the middle of the peloton.