Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) took the first WorldTour win of his career on stage three of the 2016 Tirreno-Adriatico, out-pacing fellow young sprint talent Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) to the line in Montalto di Castro.
It was a tough finish for the sprinters on day three of the week-long race, with an uphill ramp averaging 3.5% coming with 350m to go.
But it wasn’t enough to see any of the fast men dropped out the back of the main bunch, with the likes of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky), as well as Gaviria and Ewan, present in the finale.
It looked like the young Colombian Gaviria had gone too early as the bunch passed round the final left hand bend to the line, but he was able sustain his power as Australian rival Ewan made his move up the right in his low trademark style.
There was nothing he could do to overcome Gaviria though, as the Etixx man rolled across the line half a bike length ahead, with an even bigger gap on some more seasoned sprinters behind.
The day’s main break, which had initially included Giorgio Cecchinel (Androni), Simone Andreetta (Bardiani), Davide Villella (Cannondale), Domingos Gonçalves (Caja Rural) and Adrian Honkisz (CCC Sprandi), built up a maximum gap of around 4-30 on the peloton.
But the gap began to tumble in the final 50km, and as Andreetta dropped back to the bunch, the four remaining riders fought to hold on.
And it looked like they might do it as they held over 30 second with around 5km remaining, and were only caught as they hit the uphill drag at around 200m to go.
In the end it was a sprinter’s day, and Gaviria took his chance to get a first WorldTour win.
Saturday’s stage sees the peloton take on another tough day of 216km with a number of climbs close to the finish in Foligno.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2016, stage three: Castelnuovo Val di Cecina – Montalto di Castro (176km)
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Etixx-QuickStep, in 4-17-28
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
5. Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Giant-Alpecin
8. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9. Moreno Hofland (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
10. Niklas Arndt (Ger) Giant-Alpecin, all same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx-QuickStep
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 9 secs
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 9 secs
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing at 9 secs
5. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing at 9 secs
6. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx-QuickStep at 11 secs
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx-QuickStep at 11 secs
8. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff at 14 secs
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 18 secs
10. Sebastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 18 secs