Cun­ning Gaviria grabs stage win in Giro d’Italia

New Straits Times - - Sport -

CAGLIARI: Colom­bian sprinter Fer­nando Gaviria fin­ished off a cun­ning tac­ti­cal move by his Quick Step team to win the third stage of the Giro d’Italia and se­cure the race leader’s pink jer­sey on Sun­day.

Gaviria, com­pet­ing in his maiden Grand Tour, emerged from a small bunch sprint af­ter the Bel­gian out­fit used tough cross­winds to cause a split in the pelo­ton with 10km to race to power over the line in tri­umph at the end of the 148km ride from Tor­toli to Cagliari.

Ger­many’s Rudi­ger Selig (Bora team) fin­ished a dis­tant sec­ond with Italian na­tional cham­pion Gi­a­como Niz­zolo (Trek) third.

On the third and fi­nal stage on Sar­dinia and ahead of the first rest day, Gaviria took the pink jer­sey from overnight leader An­dre Greipel of the Lotto team.

Greipel, an 11-time stage win­ner on the Tour de France, claimed his sev­enth stage vic­tory from Giro when he pow­ered to vic­tory in Tor­toli on Satur­day.

But the Ger­man’s first spell in the “maglia rosa” (pink jer­sey) proved brief af­ter he was one of sev­eral stage con­tenders caught short by Quick Step’s au­da­cious but im­pres­sive move.

A three-man break­away was al­lowed to wrig­gle free early on and went on to build a max­i­mum lead of three min­utes on the pelo­ton.

But their bid col­lapsed with less than 25km re­main­ing when the last rem­nant of their es­cape, Czech Jan Trat­nik (CCC), was reeled in.

The run-in to Cagliari looked a sim­ple af­fair on pa­per, but with tough cross­winds to ne­go­ti­ate and a lengthy home straight that en­ticed the fast men of the pelo­ton, nerves soon be­gan to fray amid fears teams would work to cause splits.

The in­evitable fi­nally hap­pened with a lit­tle un­der 10km to race when sev­eral Quick Step rid­ers, in­clud­ing Gaviria, upped the pace and broke away from the main bunch. Greipel’s Lotto team bat­tled to close the 20-sec­ond gap, but it was fu­tile.

The fron­trun­ners were left un­chal­lenged on the long home straight, with Gaviria mak­ing no mis­take with an im­pres­sive fin­ish­ing burst that left his few ri­vals in his wake.

It was the 22-year-old’s maiden stage win in a three-week race, which he will now re­sume as leader to­day, when — af­ter the first of three rest days yes­ter­day — the pelo­ton tack­les the first sum­mit fin­ish of the race to Mount Etna.

EPA PIC

Fer­nando Gaviria of Quick­Step - Floors poses in his pink jer­sey af­ter win­ning the third stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sun­day.

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