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Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage 3


Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia, 190km starting and finishing in Horsens, Denmark.

157km remaining from 190km

As we pick up the action, a six-man group featuring Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda), Reto Hollenstein (Team NetApp), Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM), Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank) and Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is off the front of the peloton.

It's a special day for one of the sextet in particular - Mads Christensen is a native of Odder, and the race passes through his home town after 76km. With a lead of 3:25 already, he should still be off the front by then.

Today is also a day of remembrance at the Giro d'Italia, as the stage is dedicated to the late Wouter Weylandt. The Belgian was tragically killed in a crash on stage 3 last year, and he was an exuberant winner on stage 3 in Middelburg in 2010.

There was a touching minute's silence for Weylandt at the start line in Horsens this morning, and his close friend Tyler Farrar and his former Leopard Trek (now RadioShack-Nissan) teammates lined up in the front row of the peloton. Weylandt's favourite song, the Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire" was also played at the start, which was attended by his family.

"It’s a special day," Frank Schleck told RAI at the start. "Wouter was a great friend and there are a lot of emotions today. This stage is for him and it’s good to remember him. My fondest memory is simply that Wouter was a great friend."

The Giro also paid tribute to the mayor of Horsens, Jan Trøjborg, who died suddenly at the weekend. “The news of his death took us by surprise and we even considered cancelling the stage,” Giro director Michele Acquarone told Tuttobici. “Yesterday, we had a meeting which his widow, mother and family attended, and it was they who asked us to go on. They wanted us to bring the happiness of the Giro here so as to realise the dream that their loved one had worked on so tenaciously for a year and a half.”

The best-placed rider in today's break is Ramus Navardauskas of Garmin-Barracuda. The Lithuanian lies 6th overall, 22 seconds down on the pink jersey of Taylor Phinney (BMC). One of the early starters in Saturday's prologue, he spent much of the afternoon in the provisional lead, and he spoke about the experience with Cyclingnews.

Navardauskas is a powerful rouleur, and today's stage is certainly one for the strongmen of the flat. The 190 kilometres are composed of distinct sections - the first 43km loop brought the riders south to the coast at Juelsminde before doubling back up to Horsens. The break are now beginning the trek heading northwards towards Odder, and will then return to Horsens once more for three laps of a 14.3km finishing circuit.

In theory, the wind should not be as much of a factor as it was yesterday on the North Sea coast, and most observers are expecting a second consecutive bunch finish.

140km remaining from 190km

The sprinters' teams are taking no chances here, and they haven't allowed the break's advantage to creep out much beyond the 3:30 mark so far.

There's just one climb on the agenda today, the 4th category Ejer Bavnehoj, which comes shortly after 104km. It's just 159 metres above sea level, but that won't concern the overnight leader in the mountains competition Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia). For the second day in a row, the Italian is in the early break, and he'll certainly have designs on defending his blue jersey.

There was some gnashing of teeth when it was announced that the mountains jersey was to be changed from green to blue at the behest of sponsor Banca Mediolanum, but as Michele Acquarone's recent blog explained, this is far from the easiest of periods economically, in cycling or in Italy. Besides, the most iconic jerseys in cycling take their colours from their sponsors past or present - the maglia rosa (Gazzetta dello Sport) and yellow jersey (L'Auto) being the most obvious examples.

The Poulain chocolate company also backed the Tour's introduction of the polka dot jersey in 1975, even if some accounts claim that co-organiser Felix Levitan was simply inspired by jerseys he saw on the track at the Velodrome d'Hiver in Paris. In any case, the Giro's change from green to blue for the mountains jersey pales in comparison to the changes that saw Paris-Nice's striking white jersey replaced a rather anonymous yellow in the past decade.

The Poulain chocolate company also backed the Tour's introduction of the polka dot jersey in 1975, even if some accounts claim that co-organiser Felix Levitan was simply inspired by jerseys he saw on the track at the Velodrome d'Hiver in Paris. In any case, the Giro's change from green to blue for the mountains jersey pales in comparison to the changes that saw Paris-Nice's striking white jersey replaced a rather anonymous yellow in the past decade.

127km remaining from 190km

The BMC team of maglia rosa Taylor Phinney is controlling matters on the front of the peloton, and their deficit to the break remains stable at 3:30.

In his column in Gazzetta dello Sport this morning, Mario Cipollini was less than impressed of BMC's slow reaction to Taylor Phinney's crash in the finale yesterday. "He's in the first few positions, he falls and yet none of his teammates realise and wait for him?" Cipo asks. And we can only imagine wistfully the scenata Cipo would have provided if this had happened to him:"Then the mechanic comes along and he isn't able to get the chain back on, so eventually it's the team manager Jim Ochowicz who helps the maglia rosa get going again. I don't know how things like that can happen on a big team like BMC."

As ever at the Giro d’Italia, the polemica and intrigue isn’t only focused on what’s happening out on the road. Yesterday, Liquigas-Cannondale manager Roberto Amadio more or less told Tuttobici that Vincenzo Nibali wasn’t sticking around next year as he hadn’t deigned to respond to their contract offer, but a statement from the team this morning insisted that official negotiations had not yet been opened between Nibali and the team. “In full respect of the Union Cycliste Internationale regulations, Liquigas Cannondale can undertake negotiations with the athlete and his attorneys from 1 August 2012,” the statement read. Of course.

Gazzetta dello Sport has reported several times in recent weeks that Astana had offered Nibali a contract worth €2.5 million, and today the newspaper writes that if Nibali were to go, he would look to bring Eros Capecchi and Alessandro Vanotti with him, as well as trainer Paolo Slongo and soigneur Michele Pallini. And most intriguingly of all, Gazzetta links Astana’s Roman Kreuziger with a return to Liquigas in what would effectively be a direct swap. Of course, the Czech, whose contract expires at season’s end, is also understood to have attracted the interest of Omega Pharma-QuickStep, where his fellow countryman Zdenek Bakala is a significant backer…

95km remaining from 190km

The average speed thus far today has been a brisk if not hyperactive 42kph, and the word out on the road is that the wind has not been much of a factor so far. The break is approaching the day's lone climb, the category 4 Ejer Bavnehøj.

To return briefly to the topic of idle transfer speculation, Filippo Pozzato is another man out of contract at the end of the season, and speaking on the Rai TV’s Processo alla Tappa yesterday afternoon, the Farnese Vini-Selle Italia man admitted that he has had several offers for next year. “I’m only signed on a one-year deal, so it’s normal that I think about the future,” Pozzato said. “We’re talking with five or six teams but there’s still a long season ahead of us. There are a lot of objectives between now and the Worlds and I prefer to focus on them. If I do well, the contract will come by itself.”

Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM) won the day's intermediate sprint at Hovedgård after 90km ahead of Navardauskas and Minguez. That four-second bonus for Navardauskas reduces his deficit on Phinney's maglia rosa to 18 seconds. It might not mean much for today, but it may be more significant after Wednesday's team time trial in Verona.

Jose Serpa (Androni-Venezuela) took the start of today's stage in spite of fracturing the ring finger of his right hand in a crash yesterday. "I’ll try and if I see I’m not able to keeping going I’ll stop," Serpa said in Horsens this morning. "I hope I’ll be able to stand the pain. I slept well, but of course it’s harder holding the handlebars."

Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) is one of the most eagerly-anticipated debutants in this year’s Giro, but the Italian fastman was caught up in the crash in the final kilometre yesterday. Today’s finish might prove more to his liking. The Veronese had an imposing record in circuit races as an amateur, so the finale in Horsens is one that might well suit Guardini. “There’s a technical part with about five kilometres to go, but the last real curve is with two kilometres to go, and then there’s a long finishing straight,” he said. “We’ll get to see it twice before the final lap, so it’s good for understanding where to move up and pass.”

86km remaining from 190km

As expected, Alfredo Balloni leads over the day's sole climb, and consolidates his hold on the blue jersey of best climber.

Alasdair Fotheringham was at the start in Horsens, and here is his account of how the Giro gruppo remembered Wouter Weylandt this morning.

65km remaining from 190km

Coming through Brædstrup, the break's advantage is down to 2:45, but the six are continuing to collaborate well together.

Alfredo Balloni wolfs down a panino as he moves up to take his turn on the front of the break. The skies are overcast but the rain has held off and the temperature is around 11 degrees.

61km remaining from 190km

It seems like the Giro's GPS system is playing up a little bit this afternoon. The gap between the break and the peloton has now been updated to 3:46 - they certainly didn't make that gain in the space of two kilometres.

A native of Rome, Balloni is clearly used to slightly higher May temperatures. He's well wrapped up against the Danish summer, and is even sporting a pair of knee warmers.

The Sky team of Mark Cavendish has now taken up the pace-setting back in the peloton. Taylor Phinney is safely ensconced in a platoon of BMC riders - they've clearly heeded Signor Cipollini's advice...

Reto Hollenstein (NetApp) takes a long turn on the front. The German team is particularly keen to make the most of its selection at the Giro d'Italia, and the Swiss rider is flying the flag here.

Theo Bos is bearing the scars of his crash in the finale yesterday, but he'll be back in the fray when we get to Horsens.

The state of Ivan Basso's form was the subject of much speculation in the build-up to this Giro, but the Italian has started on the right foot. He gained time on Michele Scarponi and limited his losses to Roman Kreuziger in the prologue, and he has been consistently near the front today, just a couple of wheels back from Mark Cavendish.

Then again, Basso had a very solid start to last year's Tour de France, but then faded in the third week. The real questions will be asked of Basso - and all the other contenders - from stage 14 onwards.

Mads Christensen drops back to the Saxo Bank team car for a bidon, and then latches back on to the back of the break. Their lead is now 2:25, according to our last official check.

52km remaining from 190km

The average speed to date is 43.283kph, and the pace is beginning to ratchet up still further on the approach to Horsens. The break will hit the finishing circuit in around 10 kilometres.

A clutch of Lampre riders move up along the left hand side of the bunch, with Michele Scarponi sitting in the wheels. Basso, with the bill of his cap turned upwards, glances across with interest. Basso himself has plenty of Liquigas jerseys alongside him.

49km remaining from 190km

Balloni has probably been the most aggressive of the escapees, but Ramunas Navardauskas certainly appears to be pedalling the smoothest of the six now. The Lithuanian champion is stretching things out in front, as the peloton closes to 2:05.

The six escapees pass the 5km to go banner - they will have three laps of a 14.3km circuit to complete once they cross the finish line.

46km remaining from 190km

Mauro Santambrogio hits the front of the peloton for BMC and Phinney, and there are also a number of GreenEdge riders moving up to add purchase to Sky's pursuit of the escapees.

Navardauskas' pressing is starting to hurt some of his breakaway companions, but their lead is continuing to tumble gently.

Mads Cristensen leads the break through the finish line for the first time, to raucous cheers from the home fans.

42km remaining from 190km

The peloton comes through the finish line with a deficit of just 1:31. They won't want to catch the break too soon, however.

There's quite a bit of road furniture on this finishing circuit, but so far the peloton is negotiating the traffic islands without any significant problems.

38km remaining from 190km

Juan Antonio Flecha is drilling on the front for Sky, and the gap is dropping ever closer to the minute mark.

Valerio Agnoli has spent the day sheltering Ivan Basso from the wind, and is marshalling up on the righthand side of the peloton.

Martijn Keizer is the only rider in the break not wearing arm warmers, which is the subject of some mirth on RAI's television coverage.

35km remaining from 190km

Navardauskas once again takes up the pace-making at the front of the break, but their advantage is coming down ineluctably. The latest check is putting the gap at a mere 42 seconds.

Mark Cavendish is in the red jersey of points leader today rather than his usual rainbow bands, but whatever his attire, the Manxman's is always the wheel to watch. He's tucked in alongside Taylor Phinney for now.

32km remaining from 190km

Mads Christensen is clearly worried about the closing peloton, and he jumps off the front of the break.

Christensen has openend a small gap over his erstwhile companions, but the gap back to the peloton is just 36 seconds.

Christensen comes through the finish area alone in front, to the delight of the home fans. Meanwhile, the peloton is closely rapidly on the remnants of the break.

Game over for the rest of the break, who are caught at the beginning of the penultimate lap. Christensen is all by himself, with only thousands of screaming Danish fans for company.

27km remaining from 190km

In spite of Christensen's best efforts, his advantage is dropping steadily and now stands at 26 seconds.

The peloton cautiously negotatiates a traffic island. Competition for places is fierce at the front end of the peloton. Not only is there a full complement of sprinters vying for the best positions, but the Liquigas and Lampre squads in particular are trying to muscle Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi into place.

25km remaining from 190km

Chistensen's lead is now just 8 seconds, and he can see the gruppo breathing down his neck.

A false flat stings the legs of Christensen, and that might well signal the end of his defiance.

24km remaining from 190km

Gruppo compatto with 24 kilometres to go, as the FDJ-BigMat and Sky-propelled peloton swallows up Christensen.

We haven't seen Roman Kreuziger all day, but as if on cue, the Czech's Astana team moves up towards the front end of the peloton. There's always the possibility of crashes on a finishing circuit like this, and the overall contenders are leaving nothing to chance.

John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is also trying to stay close to the front of the peloton. This stage is set to follow the script as a bunch finish, but it's still going to be a white-knuckle ride for some of the overall contenders as the pace ratchets upwards.

20km remaining from 190km

Andrea Guardini was disappointed not to be in the mix yesterday, but the young sprinter will need to move up here. A clutch of fluorescent Farnese Vini-Selle Italia jerseys (and shorts) are bunched near the rear of the peloton.

Daniele Bennati is better positioned for now, and there is a growing RadioShack-Nissan presence on the front end of the bunch.

18km remaining from 190km

A Lotto Belisol jersey flashes off the front, and no prizes for guessing that it's Lars Bak. The Danes are not lacking in motivation today.

The powerful Bak has a six-second advantage over the peloton, which is  now led by Liquigas-Cannondale.

Liquigas-Cannondale are working for Ivan Basso, but perhaps also they have one eye on Fabio Sabatini's sprint, even if the Italian would be hard-pressed to win in this illustrious company.

15km remaining from 190km

This is a fine effort from Lar Bak, but he's not managing to get out of sight of the peloton as he approaches the line for the start of the final lap.

14km remaining from 190km

10 seconds the gap as the peloton comes through the finish area.

Bak remains in his aero tuck position as he tries to hold off the peloton, where Liquigas and Lampre are both very active.

Not surprisingly Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) and Jose Rujano (Androni-Venezuela) are towards the rear of the bunch, and their teammates are looking to bring them closer to the front.

12km remaining from 190km

Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) has also drifted towards the back after spending much of the afternoon working for Cavendish at the head of the peloton.

11km remaining from 190km

Bak is caught by the peloton with 11 kilometres to go, which is still being led by Liquigas-Cannondale.

10km remaining from 190km

Basso is sitting in third position in the peloton, with pink jersey Taylor Phinney just behind him.

Entering the final 10 kilometres, and the sprinters' teams are now trying to get their men into position. Colnago-CSF Inox's Marco Coledan is beating a path to the front for Sacha Modolo.

9km remaining from 190km

This has been a hugely impressive show of force by Liquigas-Cannondale and Basso, but Michele Scarponi has been discreetly placed at the business end of affairs for much of this finale too.

Team NetApp hit the front now, and Farnese Vini-Selle Italia are finally bringing Andrea Guardini back into play.

7km remaining from 190km

Theo Bos is sitting in front of Mark Renshaw, which suggests that the Australian will be Rabobank's sprinter this afternoon.

No one team has managed to impose its will on the peloton since Liquigas moved off the front. Saxo Bank and GreenEdge have competing trains, but Cavendish and Sky are sitting in the wheels.

6km remaining from 190km

Wisely, Sky hit the front through the most technical section of the finishing circuit, with Jeremy Hunt setting the pace.

5km remaining from 190km

Tyler Farrar is on Robbie Hunter's wheel, and they are keeping close tabs on Cavendish with 5km to go. We're set for a sprint royale in Horsens.

Interesting to note Roman Kreuziger's very comfortable presence near the front too, but from here on in, Sky's train will take and take control. Four black jerseys in front of Cavendish at the head of the peloton.

3km remaining from 190km

Rabobank are trying to move Renshaw up into contention, while Guardini is isolated in about 15th position.

2km remaining from 190km

Cavendish has lost Geraint Thomas' wheel for now, and he seems somewhat blocked in 10 places back. There's still time to rectify the situation however.

The two Sky men on the front are looking around for Cavendish, who is on Mark Renshaw's wheel.

1km remaining from 190km

Gerain Thomas hits the front with 1km to go, far too early, and he swings over.

GreenEdge are now taking charge of leading out the sprint, but Farrar and Haedo are on Goss' wheel.

Matt Goss wins the sprint ahead of Juan Jose Haedo and Tyler Farrar.

There was a big crash in the finishing straight behind, however, with Mark Cavendish and Taylor Phinney among the riders who hit the deck.

Cavendish is walking across the finish line with a torn jersey and his bike slung over his shoulder, but of more concern is Taylor Phinney's condition. The American has yet to get up and cross the line, and he seems to have an ankle injury.

Cavendish had launched his sprint when Roberto Ferrari (Androni-Venezuela) veered dramatically to his right and swept the Manxman's front wheel. That was wreckless from the Italian, and Cavendish couldn't avoid falling. A number of riders ploughed into the back of him, including Phinney, who is still down.

Somehow, Andrea Guardini managed to bunnyhop the crash and pick his way through to 11th place.

Correction, it was Guardini's teammate Elia Favilli who showed the bike handling skills.

That was a fine win from Matt Goss, but it is set to be overshadowed by the mass pile-up behind, even if it's doubtful that anyone could have stopped the Australian today. Cavendish was a long way back and had a lot of ground to make up when he fell.

The provisional results have listed Taylor Phinney as the maglia rosaso he has made it across the line, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to continue in this Giro after that fall.


1 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
2 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Barracuda
4 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
5 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team


1 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
2 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Barracuda
4 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
5 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team
8 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
9 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
10 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team

Taylor Phinney is back on his feet and retains his overall lead.

General classification:

1 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC 9:23:41
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky 0:0:09
3 Alex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin-Barracuda 0:0:13

Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage of the Giro d'Italia. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a full report, pictures and results, as well as all the news and reaction from a dramatic finale Horsens. We'll be back with live coverage of Wednesday's team time trial in Verona.

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