Philippe Gilbert says stage three at the Giro d'Italia turned into a 'race for juniors' after Tinkoff-Saxo chased a 21-man breakaway from start to finish

BMC rider Philippe Gilbert was part of a 21-man breakaway yesterday but was critical of Tinkoff-Saxo’s reluctance to let the group get away.

The break’s lead never exceeded two minutes as Alberto Contador‘s team controlling the peloton almost from start to finish to ensure the Spaniard reached the finish line safely.

Gilbert admitted to Cycling Weekly yesterday that he was surprised that Tinkoff-Saxo were taking up the lead so early in the race, and is quoted by Sporza as saying that the stage descended into ‘a junior race’.

“I do not understand their [Tinkoff’s] tactics,” he said. “They have no one who could win this stage. And no one in the leading group formed a threat to the [overall] rankings.”

Many predicted stage three was one for the breakaway to win, but when the large front group was brought back into the peloton shortly before the finish in Genoa a bunch sprint ensued.

Gilbert managed to maintain his momentum from the break to take third place behind winner Michael Matthews, but said he had done his research on the route to chase the breakaway victory.

“I knew this ride,” said Gilbert. “I knew where I could recover equally and where I had to drive in front. I was hoping that we could stay with a small group.

“But the peloton gave us no space. Not much more than a minute we got. That’s too bad.”