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Giro d’Italia 2017: Fernando Gaviria sprints to victory in a nervous Stage 3

Pete Muir
7 May 2017

Quick-Step Floors makes the most of fierce crosswinds to set up their Colombian sprinter for the win – and the maglia rosa

In a fast and fractious third stage of the 2017 Giro d'Italia, Quick-Step Floors’ Fernando Gaviria outsprinted a small group of rivals to take his first Grand Tour win and go into the pink jersey of race leader.

The wind was the deciding factor in today’s stage, making for nervous racing and eventually splitting the peloton with 10km to go. In the final kilometres, Quick-Step Floors managed to catch out the rest of the pack, getting six team members into a break of around 12 riders.

GC contender Bob Jungels led out his Quick-Step teammate and, despite a challenge from Trek-Segaredo’s Giacomo Nizzolo, Gaviria cantered home to take comfortable win.

He now takes the pink jersey from the winner of Stage 2, André Greipel, and has a nine second lead over the rest of the GC. 

Fast and nervy: how stage three of the Giro d’Italia panned out

Stage three of the 2017 Giro d'Italia tracked the east coast of the island of Sardinia from the town of Tortoli to the capital of Cagliari.

On paper, it should have been one of the easiest stages of the whole race – only 148km long and reasonably flat all the way. On a calm day, the peloton would have rolled along gently, the team leaders would have saved their energy and let the sprinters have their fun in the final kilometres.

However, with a strong wind blowing, the teams of the GC contenders were concerned that splits could form in the peloton, and no one wanted to be stuck in a group at the rear.

As a result, all the teams fought to stay near the front of the pack, and the average speed during the day was over 45kmh, compared to 35kmh the previous day.

A break of three stayed a minute or two ahead of the main pack for the majority of the day, while Lotto-Soudal controlled the pace on the front of the peloton to protect the pink jersey of André Greipel, the winner of Stage 2.

At around the 40km-to-go point, the race hit the south coast of the island and turned westwards into a headwind. With nervous teams looking to stay safely at the front of the peloton, the speed rose and the breakaway was quickly reeled in with 29km of the race still to go.

In the final 15km, a strong crosswind of 50kmh meant that maintaining position at the front of the pack became even more vital, and the big teams fought pitched battles to hold their place at the head of the race.

With 10km to go, the pack finally split, with a group of around 12 riders managing to break away at the front, led by Bob Jungels and several other Quick-Step Floors riders. Behind them, Greipel and Sky’s Geraint Thomas tried but failed to latch on to the front group.

Within the last 4km, the lead group had 20 seconds on the chasing group, which included the pink jersey, while more splits occurred in the main pack.

By the final kilometre, Jungels was leading out his sprinter, Fernando Gaviria, while Italian national champion Giacomo Nizzolo of Trek-Segafredo waited to pounce. In the final rush to the line, the Colombian Gaviria held off all challenges to take his first Giro stage win.

As it stands at the end of stage three

After his stage three win, Fernando Gaviria is in the pink jersey, with a nine second lead over André Greipel. The winner of stage one, Lukas Postlberger, is in third place at 13 seconds, the same time as GC contender Bob Jungels.

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas is tenth in GC at 23 seconds, while André Greipel takes over the points jersey and Daniel Teklehaimanot of Team Dimension Data hangs on to the climber’s jersey ahead of a hilly stage on the slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna.