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Tirreno-Adriatico 2015: Stage 3

Live coverage of stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico, 203 kilometres from Cascina to Arezzo.

95km remaining from 203km

As we pick up the action, Nicola Boem (Bardiani CSF), Danilo Wyss (BMC), Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Chad Haga (Giant-Alpecin) and Rick Flens (LottoNL-Jumbo) are off the front with a lead of 4:45 over a peloton that is being led by Peter Sagan's Tinkoff-Saxo team.

The five escapees slipped away in the opening kilometres and the peloton was more than happy to leave them to it, to the extent that they established a lead of 14 minutes within 40 kilometres. The Movistar team of race leader Adriano Malori felt moved at that point to initiate some semblance of a chase and in the past hour, Tinkoff-Saxo have taken up the baton on behalf of Sagan, and begun shaving minutes of the deficit.

The five escapees slipped away in the opening kilometres and the peloton was more than happy to leave them to it, to the extent that they established a lead of 14 minutes within 40 kilometres. The Movistar team of race leader Adriano Malori felt moved at that point to initiate some semblance of a chase and in the past hour, Tinkoff-Saxo have taken up the baton on behalf of Sagan, and begun shaving minutes of the deficit.

The break has already been over the day’s two climbs, at San Martino and Poggio alla Croce, with Wyss picking up maximum points. They are now proceeding towards Arezzo, where they face five laps of an 11km-finishing circuit and that testing uphill finishing straight on the Via Ricasoli.

There was one non-starter after yesterday's crash-marred finale in Cascina. Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) has been forced out by his injuries, but other fallers, including Elia Viviani (Sky) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), remain in the race. Mark Cavendish’s slipped chain in the finishing straight contributed to Vivian’s fall, and you can read Stephen Farrand’s account here.

The general classification picture ahead of today's stage was as follows:

1 Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team 3:36:22
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:01
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:02
5 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
6 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
7 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:04
8 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:05
9 Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN - Qhubeka 0:00:06
10 Martijn Keizer (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:07
11 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
12 Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:00:08
13 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team
14 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - Qhubeka
15 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step
16 Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling
17 Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:09
18 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
19 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:10
20 Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek Factory Racing

 

Peter Sagan won this same stage last year and the Slovak is the favourite for a repeat victory here, particularly with Arezzo native Daniele Bennati to guide him at Tinkoff-Saxo. Given the expectations - and one of cycling's most lucrative contracts - it's fair to say that Sagan's time at Tinkoff-Saxo thus far has been, if not underwhelming, then certainly no better than, er, whelming. A first victory of the season here would put a different complexion on things.

66km remaining from 203km

The efforts of Matteo Tosatto and Christopher Juul-Jensen have brought the break's back 3:27. Sagan's second place finish yesterday and his fine showing in Wednesday's opening time trial were important signs of form. He dons the white jersey of best young rider today but lies second overall in the time as Malori and seems poised to take hold of the leader's jersey.

59km remaining from 203km

Boem, Quintero, Flens, Wyss and Haga are through the town of Indicatore and approaching the centre of Arezzo and the beginning of their first lap of the finishing circuit. They have 3:13 in hand but Tinkoff-Saxo's pursuit is growing in intensity.

The peloton is strung out in one line and, so far at least, Tinkoff-Saxo are giving the appearance of a team minded to try and shake a few of the pure sprinters loose on the first four trips up that tricky finishing straight.

55km remaining from 203km

The leading quintet rattle their way through the arch and up the slabbed road towards the finish line. Beyond the gradient itself, this is a particularly technical finale, where positioning and bike handling are crucial.

Alberto Contador sits comfortably in seventh wheel behind a line of his Tinkoff-Saxo teammates, while Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana squad are massed just behind him.

48km remaining from 203km

Danilo Wyss in the green jersey of best climber has been particularly prominent on the front of the breakaway, but with their lead down to 2:35, he must be aware that their hopes of surviving to the line are dwindling by the kilometre.

Our man in Tuscany Stephen Farrand caught up with Sky's Elia Viviani at the start in Cascina. The Italian suffered blows to his hip and left side in his finish line crash yesterday but declared himself fit for duty this morning.

44km remaining from 203km

The five leaders pass through the finish line with four laps remaining and with a lead just shy of two minutes.

Sagely, the peloton makes its way relatively gingerly through the technical final kilometre this time around, but there will be no quarter given come the final lap.

Once out of the centro storico, however, Tinkoff-Saxo force the pace once again. Small wonder that some riders are beginning to suffer at the back of the bunch, including Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge).

41km remaining from 203km

The veteran Tosatto has spent a long, long time setting the pace on the front of the peloton but shows few signs of relenting. Christopher Juul-Jensen and Ivan Basso are lined up just behind him.

At the rear of the peloton, Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) munches on an energy bar as he drops back and waits for his team car. The Colombian still looks some way short of condition but the Terminillo will tell us more this weekend.

36km remaining from 203km

It's interesting to note a delegation from BMC moving into position behind Tinkoff-Saxo. This finale ought to suit Greg Van Avermaet - the man who was initially supposed to spend this Friday the 13th appearing before a Belgian Cycling Federation committee to explain why he was a patient of Dr. Chris Mertens. Van Avermaet succeeded in postponing the hearing, however. A funny old game, cycling.

33km remaining from 203km

The five leaders are on the kick towards the finish line once again, this time with a lead of 58 seconds over the peloton. They will have three laps to go as they pass.

There's been a detente of sorts in the peloton on the opening laps of this finishing circuit, with Tinkoff-Saxo controlling affairs. The next time up this climb, however, we can surely expect some attempts to break the deadlock.

30km remaining from 203km

A puncture for Vincenzo Nibali, who gets a quick wheel change and is now chasing back on through the convoy behind the main peloton. The Sicilian is glued to the rear bumper of the Bora-Argon 18 car and should be back on aboard pretty rapidly.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) has been reported as an abandon, incidentally, though we are still awaiting official confirmation. A dark horse for Milan-San Remo, missing out on half of Tirreno-Adriatico would be a huge blow to his Classicissima hopes.

27km remaining from 203km

Nibali is still off the back of the peloton but he has three Astana teammates for company and, as ever, seems the very personification of tranquillo, historically the Italian cyclist's equivalent of the state of nirvana.

Speaking of Astana, our man in Malaysia, Pat Fletcher, wrote this story on the squad at the Tour de Langkawi and their thoughts on the threat that the team might lose its WorldTour licence. Astana's directeur sportif at Langkawi? Dmitri Sedoun. The very same Dmitri Sedoun who also used to manage the supposedly separate Astana Continental team and was reportedly fired following the squad's three positive tests last year. It surely doesn't take a team of University of Lausanne researchers to work out that something doesn't quite add up with all of that...

22km remaining from 203km

At the head of the race, meanwhile, Nicola Boem and Chad Haga have forged clear of the rest of the break. They hit the line with two laps remaining with a lead of 15 seconds over the Tinkoff-Saxo-led bunch.

Wyss, Flens and Quintero have been swept up by the bunch and it's surely only a matter of time before Haga and Boem suffer the same fate. For now, however, the Italo-American tandem is putting up stout resistance.

That haul to the finish is the only climb on this circuit but the profile doesn't give a true feel for its difficulty. Like the Worlds circuit in Ponferrada last year, the peloton has been stretched all afternoon, with very few opportunities for regrouping or moving up on this circuit.

17km remaining from 203km

Boem and Haga are caught by the peloton, as Tinkoff-Saxo continue to force the pace on the front. The blue jersey of Malori moves up just behind them. He must be aware that defending his lead against Sagan will be a tall order this afternoon.

A line of FDJ riders marshal Thibaut Pinot into position near the head of the peloton. Pinot has a fondness for racing in Italy that stretches back to his amateur days but FDJ’s understandable focus on the Tour and French races means that his opportunities to do so are often limited. He’ll look to test himself on the Terminillo this weekend.

14km remaining from 203km

A number of riders with the qualities to win this afternoon are quietly manoeuvring their way into position, including Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida).

13km remaining from 203km

Ivan Basso hits the front for Tinkoff-Saxo as they approach the haul to the line for the penultimate time.

11km remaining from 203km

Six Tinkoff-Saxo riders sit in front of the white jersey of Peter Sagan, who is pedalling very comfortably indeed.

11km remaining from 203km

Basso leads the peloton through the finish line with one lap remaining. This has been textbook from Tinkoff-Saxo thus far, their efforts have dissauded anyone from even trying to attack from the main peloton.

Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek) were both positioned just behind Sagan as they took the bell. The two favourites for Paris-Roubaix might be tempted to test themselves in the finale here, even if the terrain seems better suited to Sagan.

9km remaining from 203km

Strade Bianche winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) is also loitering with intent in that group of riders massing just behind Sagan. Tinkoff-Saxo remain in command on the front.

8km remaining from 203km

Ian Stannard (Sky) has now taken over at the head of the peloton, with Elia Viviani tucked onto his rear wheel.

7km remaining from 203km

Stannard continues to lead, but now Etixx-QuickStep are moving up with Stybar, Terpstra and Rigoberto Uran.

6km remaining from 203km

An inopportune puncture for Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin) has surely eliminated him from contention. BMC are now on on the front in support of Van Avermaet. Tinkoff-Saxo have been swamped in these closing kilometres.

5km remaining from 203km

IAM Cycling and BMC lead the bunch through the 5km to go banner. 

4km remaining from 203km

Peter Sagan is still in the first 15 riders, but he no longer has his Tinkoff-Saxo teammates surrounding him.

3km remaining from 203km

Sep Vanmarcke and LottoNL-Jumbo move up in support of Paul Martens, a redoubtable finisher on this kind of finale.

2km remaining from 203km

Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) emerges and pilots Sagan back to the front. Bodnar is on the front now with Sagan tucked in third position.

2km remaining from 203km

Bodnar swings over and Sagan is alone again. Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato and BMC lead.

1km remaining from 203km

Van Avermaet is in second position, but it seems a little too early for the Belgian to be there.

1km remaining from 203km

Oss leads into the final kilometre and the beginning of the climb.

Luca Paolini takes over as the gradient jumps to 8%.

Sagan, Cancellara, Martens and Pozzato are all well-placed as BMC lead out Van Avermaet.

Van Avermaet opens the sprint with 200 metres to go as the road straightens out.

Sagan and Stybar try to get on terms, but Van Avermaet is hanging on...

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) wins stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Sagan closed to within half a wheel but Van Avermaet hung on for the win. Stybar took third place, ahead of Pozzato.

Sagan made up a lot of ground in the finishing straight but he was poorly-positioned on the final corner and he has to settle for second place.

Van Avermaet's win is also enough to put him into the overall lead, 2 seconds ahead of Sagan and 8 clear of Malori. Cancellara is 5th overall, a further second back.

Cancellara, incidentally, seemed to have a perfect position for that sprint but he never got going and had to settle for 5th on the stage.

"It was a nice stage for me, I was close at Strade Bianche. The team did a good lead-out in the end but for the last 200 metres I was still in front and that was far but I was able to hold off the guys and win," Van Avermaet says. "I’d been close before now but it’s always good when you get the first win of the season."

Result:

1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
4 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
6 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
7 Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
8 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step
10 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky
 

General classification after stage 3:

1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 8:34:31
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:02
3 Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:08
4 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:09
5 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling 0:00:10
6 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:13
7 Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN - Qhubeka 0:00:14
8 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:16
9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - Qhubeka
10 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:00:17

Rather than facing questions from the Belgian Cycling Federation, Van Avermaet instead finishes his day with a trip to the podium to don the blue leader's jersey at Tirreno-Adriatico. He carries a two-second lead into tomorrow's stage to Castelraimondo.

Thanks for joining our coverage of Tirreno-Adriatico this afternoon on Cyclingnews. A full report, pictures and results follow here, and we'll have all the news and reaction from Arezzo through the rest of the day. You can read about stage 5 of Paris-Nice here, and we'll be back with live coverage from both Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice tomorrow.

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