Alessandro Bertolini (Androni) surprised the sprinters in Thursday’s third stage in the Giro del Trentino in northern Italy.
Bertolini held a slender margin of two seconds across the line to win ahead of the fast-charging Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) while Roberto Ferrari (De Rosa) crossed the line third in the 164km stage from Fiera di Primerno to Trento.
The overall lead remained unchanged as overnight leader Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) finished safely in the main pack. Vinokourov retained a 26-second lead to Riccardo Riccò (Flaminia), with Michele Scarponi (Androni) slotting into third at 29 seconds off the pace.
Defending champ Ivan Basso (Liquigas) remains fourth at 37 seconds back as the top 10 is only divided by 1:10 going into Thursday’s fourth and final stage.
Vinokourov — who is heading back to Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the first time since his blood doping ban in 2007 – will have to fend off the Italian climbers if he hopes to claim the overall.
It should be a real dogfight in the 172km run from Arco to Alpe di Pampeago, finishing with the steep, first-category finale with an average of 10 percent grade in the final 8km.
1. Alessandro Bertolini (I), Androni Giocattoli-Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, in 4:02:04
2. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 0:02
3. Roberto Ferrari (I), De Rosa at 0:02
4. Mirco Lorenzetto (I), Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 0:02
5. Simon Clarke (Aus), ISD-Neri, at 0:02
6. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr), Team Katusha, at 0:02
7. Daniele Ratto (I), Carmiooro-a Style, at 0:02
8. Daniel Oss (I), Liquigas Doimo, at 0:02
9. Simon Geschke (G), Skil-Shimano, at 0:02
10. Krzysztof Szczawinski (Pol), Miche-Silver Cross-Selle Italia, at 0:02
Overall, after stage 3
1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kz), Astana, in 9:05:06
2. Riccardo Ricco (I), Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce, at 0:26
3. Michele Scarponi (I), Androni Giocattoli-Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 0:29
4. Ivan Basso (I), Liquigas Doimo, at 0:37
5. Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col), Androni Giocattoli-Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 0:38
6. Evgeny Petrov (Rus), Team Katusha, at 0:55
7. Tadej Valjavec (Slo), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 1:06
8. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro), Liquigas Doimo, at 1:07
9. Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro), Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo, at 1:10
10. Tomaz Nose (Slo), Adria Mobil, at 1:12