Gianni Moscon took stage three of the Tour of the Alps 2021 and his second of the race this year after opening up the sprint early and holding on to the line ahead of Felix Großschartner in second.
Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers) opened up his sprint with around 250 metres to go, but the early effort was necessary as the final couple hundred metres were through a chicane before straightening to the line.
Austrian climber Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the best of the rest with Michael Storer (DSM) holding on for third. Großschartner's team-mate, Fabbro held off a chasing group including Pello Bilbao and other riders from the early break to take fourth.
Bilbao bridged across to the chase group on the final climb with 20km to go and held on ahead of the Nicolas Roche (DSM) led peloton to move up a bit in the overall standings to third overall just 1-04 behind Simon Yates (BikeExchange).
Yates holds onto his overall lead by 45 seconds over Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) going into the queen's stage of the race tomorrow.
How it happened
The day started in the town of Imst before the riders tackled the 162km of very hilly terrain, taking in four climbs, with only two categorised, before finishing in Naturno.
Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohe) were the first riders to get away before being joined by 13 other riders. They got a maximum gap of just under three minutes.
The rest of the break was made up of stage one winner Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers), Reuben Thompson (Groupama-FDJ), Antonio Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Luis León Sanchez (Astana-Premier Tech), Harold Tejada (Astana-Premier Tech), Feliz Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tejay Van Garderen (EF-Nippo), Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain Victorious), Tony Gallopin (Ag2r-Citroën), Mark Christian (Eolo-Kometa), Michael Storer (DSM), François Bidard (Ag2r-Citroën), and Edward Ravasi (Eolo-Kometa).
French climber Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) tried to get in the break but was caught before the first categorised climb of the stage, the Passo Resia.
Climbing over the Resia the breakaway split with Christan, Gallopin, Thompson, Tejada and Ravasi all lost touch before the first three made it back on the descent with 41km to go, holding 1-32 to the peloton.
Back in the peloton, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè tried a move off the front on the Resia descent with Giovanni Carboni and Daniel Savini but didn’t manage to stay away despite catching Tejada and Ravasi at the base of the descent with 34km to go.
Sivakov crashed on the descent, splitting the peloton but the defending champion made it back in and got to the front with 27km to go.
The final climb of the Tarres came with 23km with Pernsteiner attacking early. Moscon countered over the top of the Austrian with Fabbro also pushing on after the Italian, holding 45 seconds back to the peloton.
Storer and Großschartner bridged across to the two leaders meaning Fabbro went straight to the front to pace for his Austrian team leader just before the top of the climb.
Pello Bilbao was the one and the only rider to attack the peloton on the final climb with the Basque rider going off the front of the BikeExchange led peloton as he tried to gain time to move up in the overall.
The leading group managed to get over a minute on the peloton as Bilbao made it to the middle chasing group, pulling 30 seconds on the peloton. Pernsteiner dropped back to help his leader along with the rest of the chasing riders at 11km to go.
As the kilometres ticked down the chasers got closer and closer but Fabbro did a huge turn for his leader Großschartner into the final kilometres before Moscon kicked with 250 metres to the line. Großschartner spotted this move and latched into the Italian's slipstream, but Moscon had the pace and the positioning through the chicane in the last 100 metres to hold off the Austrian to the line.
Bilbao and co finished just a second later but the Spanish climber found the time he needed to see him fly up to a podium spot at third overall going into the queen stage. Yates held his 45-second lead to Sivakov who remained in second.
Stage four is the designated queen's stage of the race, starting in the finish town of today, Naturno, before heading deep into the Trentino region of the Italian Alps taking on four climbs before a rapid descent to the line in Valle de Chiese/Pieve di Bono after 168.6km.
Tour of the Alps 2021, stage three: Imst to Naturno (1162km)
1. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers, in 4-04-25
2. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
3. Michael Storer (Aus) Team DSM, at 1 second
4. Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-Up Nation
6. Antonio Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7. François Bidard (Fra) Ag2r-Citroën
8. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious
9. Luis León Sanchez (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech, all at same time
10. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain Victorious, at 13s
General classification after stage three
1. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, in 10-52-10
2. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 45s
3. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 1-04
4. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at same time
5. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at 1-08
6. Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at same time
7. Jai Hindley (Aus) Team DSM, at 1-27
8. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at same time
9. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo, at 1-52
10. Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange, at same time
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