Giro d’Italia stage 3: Michael Matthews pips Mads Pedersen, João Almeida crashes
After a slow start, the stage turned spicy in the end. Pinot snagged the KoM jersey, Evenepoel avoided mishaps to stay in pink.
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Trek-Segafredo led out Mads Pedersen, but it was Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla) who won a grueling sprint in the frenetic finale of stage 3 at the Giro d’Italia.
Matthews come over the top of the Trek-Segafredo train, and held off Pedersen in a long sprint to snag his first win in 2023. Pedersen nearly caught him at the line, with Kaden Groves (Alpecin Deceuninck) crossing the line third.
“I am just speechless. What I’ve been through these past few months to now come back with a victory for the team,” Matthews said. “It’s been such a rollercoaster this year, to have a stage win in stage 3 already, it’s more than I could have dreamed of.
“I had heard that Pedersen was dropped on the climb,” he said. “I knew I needed to go early and get the jump on them, and it worked out. The team rode all day and they were fully committed for me to win the stage.”
There’s never a dull day at the Giro. Rain slicked up roads, and podium favorite João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) crashed on a descent. Teammates helped him chase back, and he even climbed into second overall despite the high-speed crash.
“It was not a perfect day. A guy crashed in front of me and I went to the ground. I went back on the bike, luckily I had my teammates there to come back. Otherwise I would never be back,” Almeida said. “Now it is to recover from the crash, and try to keep my level. Hopefully we can keep the podium anyway.”
Overnight leader Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) coolly stayed in command of the pink jersey and rolled in with the lead group, adding one second to his lead to arch-rival Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and three on everyone else in a late-stage time sprint.
“I went for the time bonus in the intermediate sprint because we were just there as we wanted to stay in front because the rain had made the road a bit dangerous,” Evenepoel said. “I saw Roglič and his teammates right behind us so I sprinted. It didn’t cost much energy. There were a few seconds up for grabs. One second more on Primož and three on the others, it’s good, especially after such an easy day of racing.”
Two short but steep climbs separated the wheat from the chaff in the 213km stage from Vasto to Melfi. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) came to life in his final Giro and won points in the day’s major climbs to move into the best climber’s jersey.
Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) gave up the chase, allowing João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) to slot into second, now 32 seconds back. Roglič bumped to third at 44 seconds back. Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) remained in fourth at 45 off the pink jersey pace.
Evenepoel looked cool as he easily fended off Roglič in a late-stage time bonus sprint, perhaps putting to rest the idea that the Slovenian can chip away at his lead with bonuses.
Despite seeing some big names being gapped more than a few times, Pedersen, Groves, and Matthews were among the sprinters who gritted their teeth to make the select front group.
Jayco-AlUla was all-in, and the team worked hard to bring home the reduced bunch kick in what was a stage that saw some of the other top sprinters get gapped out.
“We came with a plan. The whole team really committed and it’s great to see it pay off. It was up to Michael to finish it off,” said Jayco-AlUla’s Callum Scotsum. “When it’s hard, he’s good, and there are a lot of stages that suit him well during this Giro. We’re excited.”
There were a few mishaps across the day, with Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) among the top GC favorites getting distanced in the late-stage climbs to cede 4:40 on the day, after perhaps helping Almeida pull back. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) was also forced to swap bikes.
The Giro continues Tuesday with the three-climb 175km fourth stage from Venosa to Lago Laceno. Two second-category climbs spice up the stage, with the Giro’s first uphill finale, finishing with the short but steep second-category summit kick.
It won’t prove that decisive in the overall battle for the pink jersey, but it will signal anyone know doesn’t have the spark in their legs. Expect a very select group if a break doesn’t stay clear.
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