By Andrew Hood
Cadel Evans’ remarkable spring campaign continued when the Australian doubled Thursday at Italy’s Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali both winning the stage and claiming the overall leader’s jersey.
The Silence-Lotto captain, fresh off winning atop Mont Ventoux at Paris-Nice earlier this month, drove home a solo victory 32 seconds ahead of overnight leader Stefano Garzelli (Aqua e Sapone) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), who came through second and third in the 189km stage.
Evans takes control of the five-day Italian stage race with a 23-second lead to Garzelli and 1:19 to Nibali, who slotted in for third place.
Michael Barry (High Road) featured in the day’s early breakaway as five riders pulled away about 40km into the stage. The peloton slowly upped the pace to neutralize the move going into the decisive climb at Cat. 1 Monte Barigazzo with 13km to go.
Garzelli, Niklas Axelsson (Serramenti Pvc Diquigiovanni), Evans and Nibali gapped the field on the steep climb, but Evans attacked with 8km to go to drop everyone in the group and solo in for the double.
The race continues Friday with the 184.4km fourth stage from Rio Saliceto to Finale Emilia that favors the sprinters.