Michael Matthews and Orica-GreenEdge continued to dominate at the Giro d'Italia leaving little for the other teams and their sprinters, who tried to take on the Australian in the stage 3 sprint in Sestri Levante.
Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing) tried to match Matthews pace in the final metres and hit out early but was beaten just at the line. It was a superb effort after the hilly stage and considering he had no teammates with him in the sprint.
"I had marked this stage in red, I knew it was good for me and I was focused on it today," Felline said after the stage according to his Trek Factory Racing team. "It was a super hard stage, all the time turning left, right, up and down, and all the time on small roads. Second is good and I'm happy because it confirms my condition but a victory is a victory and in the Giro it means so much more and it is so important for the team. This is the third time I've been second in the Giro.
"However Matthews was better than me today and it was the opposite result to when I beat him in the stage at the Pais Vasco. Tomorrow is another day and well see what happens in La Spezia."
Philippe Gilbert (BMC) had been tipped as a favourite for the rolling stage but finished third in the sprint after spending much of the stage in the big breakaway. The former world champion got some help from Damiano Caruso in the lead out and was convinced he could have won.
"It's good to have a third place but I was really coming up fast and the end and so it is possible to have a bigger result. The win was possible today, so it is a bit of a disappointment," he said after the stage.
Gilbert made it clear he did not understand why Tinkoff-Saxo opted to ride so hard and chase the break down.
"We had Silvan Dillier and Marcus Burghardt in there too and Silvan did a big ride on the early climbs to keep the gap on the peloton. But then we heard on the radio that Tinkoff-Saxo had kept pulling. We didn't understood Tinkoff-Saxo's tactic because it's not like they have someone to win the stage and there wasn’t anyone dangerous for the GC in our group," he said.
"I thought it was a good group to go to the finish but it didn't happen. The gap stayed at a minute and so everyone started to get nervous and didn't pull, then people started attack, making it like a junior race, with no tactics, just chasing again, again and again. I thought at one point that we're just killing ourselves and we'd empty our legs. We managed to stay in the front but then on the last climb the bunch came to just 20 seconds and that was it.”
"I gave it go, to try to get a few bonus seconds before tomorrow's (Tuesday's) stage, when there's a chance of moving closer to the pink jersey. I was caught up in a stupid crash and hit my back, I can feel that my position is out of sync but I thought why not give it a go. Now we'll see how I feel after recovering overnight but I'm still up for going after the pink jersey."