The profile of the stage promised offensive riding and that is what we got. A large group with strong names like Chaves, Gilbert, Hansen, Herrada and Vilella got away early and the tough terrain made for very little cooperation and more a fight of every man against everyone as riders dropped out of the group on the climbs. Behind Tinkoff-Saxo were leaving nothing to chance. Despite having no jersey to protect they sat massively on the front all day more or less keeping the breakaway within striking distance. It was a strategy that was hard to see through and it might simply have been designed to keep Contador up front and protected but it looked a very energy consuming way to go about it.
On the final climb that peaked with about 20 km to go Katusha's Pavel Kochetkov attacked the break and led down the descent with a gap of about 20 seconds. Hansen, Paterski and Clarke set off in pursuit and caught the Russian with a few kilometers to go. At this point though Peter Weening of Orica had joined Tinkoff in the chase behind and they were breathing down the neck of the attackers already. Orica had Matthews in the group and with him a splendid chance of winning a sprint. The breakaway soon conceded and Tinkoff led the small peloton into the final sprint. Once in the final kilometer there was little doubt of the outcome as Gerrans led the group out and Matthews narrowly managed to avoid getting boxed in along the barriers. He followed Fabio Felline as he accelerated and then, with impeccable timing, he passed the Trek rider to win the stage comfortably. With the Maglia Jersey defended in the most perfect way possible Matthews confirmed this Giro as a success and he divulged in the post-race interview that the team had reconned this stage beforehand and the result was in no way the result of chance.
Unfortunately the day was dominated by a much worse incident as outside favorite Domenico Pozzovivo crashed on the descent of the final climb, the Barbagelata. The front wheel of the Ag2r rider slid out in a curve for unknown reasons and he fell gruesomely without being able to get his arms out to break the fall. Instead he fell heavily on his face and head and lay motionless and bleeding profusely on the tarmac as spectators rushed to his aid. Anyone who was unfortunate enough to see the day Wouter Weylandt crashed and died in the Giro had scary flashbacks as the rider seemed in bad condition. After an uncomfortably long time he was reached by medical personnel and much later an ambulance and ultimately he was taken to hospital, reportedly conscious and lucid at that time. According to race doctors the injuries where not as bad a first appeared and the rider had "only " suffered bad facial injuries and his condition was under control. We will follow updates on his condition during the evening and hope that his injuries are minor and he has a quick recovery.
Top 10 Stage 3
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