Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-Quick-Step), twice second at the Giro d’Italia, watched his maglia rosa dream ride 42 seconds up the road on Tuesday.
Urán lost more than half a minute to a select group that included Fabio Aru (Astana), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Richie Porte (Sky), and countrymen Esteban Chavez (Orica-GreenEdge) and Darwin Atapuma (BMC). He crossed the line in a group that also contained Lotto-Soudal’s GC hope Jurgen Van den Broeck, and now sits 54 seconds behind Contador and 34 seconds behind Porte.
It’s a gap that is far from insurmountable. Urán started the Giro with a minor cold, which may still be affecting his performance, according to Etixx team boss Patrick Lefevere. The team expects him to perform well, and take back lost time, in the Giro’s long, 59-kilometer individual time trial. The Colombian rider also tends to fare better on the longer climbs found later in the race.
“It wasn’t a super day for me, but tomorrow is another day,” Urán said. “The climb of Abetone is a different kind of climb so we will see how things go tomorrow.”
The difficult, twisty, hilly third stage along Italy’s Ligurian coast proved harder than expected as Aru’s Astana squad turned the screws over a series of medium-length climbs on the way to La Spezia. Urán was eventually isolated, without teammates, and lost contact with the a group of overall contenders as Aru attacked up the final climb of the day, a short but steep ramp to Biassa.
Young Cannondale-Garmin rider Davide Formolo won the stage with a daring move out of the shattered remnants of the day’s long breakaway.
“It was a difficult day all day,” Urán said of the stage. “It was really high speed. When Astana set the tempo in the last 65 kilometers I was able to sit in the wheel. All was going well, but in the last climb I suffered a bit and couldn’t follow when Aru accelerated. At that point I tried to set my tempo and lose as little time as possible going into the finish.”
Etixx is now down two vital domestiques, as back pain from a stage 3 crash caused Gianni Meersman to abandon the race on Tuesday. Pieter Serry withdrew following a crash on stage 2.
“I was lost immediately at the beginning of the stage, but I managed to come back into the peloton,” Meersman said. “However, after 80 kilometers it was impossible to continue. I had pain in my lower back and deep in my chest. In any case it was difficult to breathe and handle the bike, so I was forced to stop.”
“Today we lost Gianni, which means we are down two guys in four days,” sport director Davide Bramati said. “This is not really the best way to start the Giro. Rigo [Urán] also suffered a bit. But the Giro is three weeks long. The guys are committed, and of course Rigo has worked hard to do well at this race. So tomorrow we will wait and see what can happen, but we want to try to get our chance in this Giro.”