Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was awarded the stage three victory of the Giro d'Italia 2019 after Elia Viviani (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) was relegated after coming across Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) in the sprint finish.
Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) finished second with Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) third.
Ackermann went early once again, with the Italian champion sitting on his wheel before launching his sprint in windy conditions.
Moschetti appeared to not complain as he came across the finish line, as Gaviria high-fived Viviani to congratulate him on the wind.
However, the Giro d'Italia tweeted soon after the finish: "The jury watched the video footage of the sprint and have decided to relegate Elia Viviani. The winner is Fernando Gaviria".
Tao Geoghegan Hart was held up by a crash in the final 5km, which saw fellow Brit James Knox (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) hit the deck, with the Team Ineos man rolling across the line 1-31 down on the bunch accompanied by his team-mates. He now finds himself in 57th place overall, 2-03 down on Primož Roglič, who will keep his pink jersey for a third consecutive day.
Laurens de Plus (Lotto-Soudal), who alongside Geoghegan Hart was in the top ten on GC, 35 seconds down on Roglič at the start of the day, finished in 159th place on stage three, crossing the line more than 15 minutes after Gaviria. The Belgian now finds himself in 161st place on GC, 15-54 down.
Stage four should provide another day that is unlikely to see a big shake-up on GC, but should provide an unpredictable winner with the finish line up a small incline.
How it happened
Stage three threw up another opportunity for the sprinters, after Pascal Ackermann won the opening duel of the fast men on stage two, with only two intermediate sprints and a fourth category climb to keep the peloton entertained along the 220km stretch of road from Vinci to Orbetello.
In what was either an incident of incompetence or cruelty, only one rider made the day's break. Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo Vini Fantini) making his Grand Tour debut went it alone, the Japanese rider being the sole representative of his nation in this year's race after his countryman Hiroki Nishimura finished outside the time limit on the stage one 8km time trial.
Hatsuyama, who opened up a maximum gap of nearly five minutes during his day out front, went across the first intermediate sprint point first, with Arnaud Démare then taking the peloton across.
With 78km to go, Hatsuyama's gap was plummeting, with the pace in the peloton going up and causing a temporary split, which brought the 30-year-old's advantage down from 1-30 to just 30 seconds after another 2km of racing. Within another kilometre he had sat up and was promptly caught, having spent nearly 145km off the front.
Nervousness seemed to grip the peloton as they approached the second intermediate sprint, with Bora-Hansgrohe bringing Pascal Ackermann up to the front and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) also moving up. However, it all quietened down just before the line, with Arnaud Démare going across first to take maximum points this time around, meaning he now has the lead in the sprint classification, with a four point lead over second-placed Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
With just under 50km left to race, the television moto panned to Team Ineos' Tao Geoghegan Hart back in the team cars, a bloodied knee divulging he had fallen on the course, but the Brit made his way back into the pack without incident.
Blue jersey holder Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) came to the front for the solitary categorised climb of the day, the fourth category Poggio l'Apparita, to claim the maximum climbing points on offer to extend his lead in the king of the mountains to 18 points over François Bidard (Ag2r La Mondiale).
The sprinters' teams started forming their trains at the front of the peloton as they passed under the 10km banner, looking to protect their favourites for the win as they headed towards a technical finish in high winds.
Suddenly, Movistar dropped off the back as Richard Carapaz suffered a mechanical, with Antonio Pedrero sacrificing his bike so the Spanish team could try and time-trial their highest placed rider on GC back to the bunch as they sped towards the finish line.
With 5km to go, a crash brought down James Knox (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) as well as Enrico Battaglin (Katusha-Alpecin), with many riders including Tao Geoghegan Hart being held up, the Brit eventually finishing 1-31 behind and losing his top 10 spot on GC.
UAE Team Emirates and Groupama-FDJ headed up the bunch on the run-in to the finish, with riders stringing out behind, desperately clinging on despite the ferocious pace that was being set.
After Pascal Ackermann launched his sprint early once again, Viviani chose the German's wheel earlier than yesterday, meaning he could eventually come round the German to cross the finish line first.
A few minutes after the finish, news broke that the Italian champion had been relegated by the race jury after it was deemed he had impeded Matteo Moschetti in the finish. The Trek-Segafredo rider, however, didn't appear have any complaint as he came across the line as seen in television replays.
This meant that Fernando Gaviria, who congratulated Viviani across the finish line, was promoted to first place, with Arnaud Démare taking second and Pascal Ackermann taking third.
Stage four provides another day of racing that is unlikely to trouble the race lead of Primož Roglič, although the uphill finish should provide an unpredictable run-in.
Giro d’Italia 2019, stage three: Vinci to Orbetello (220km)
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates, in 5-23-19
2. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
6. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC
7. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
8. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli - Sidermic
9. Christian Knees (Ger) Team Ineos
10. Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First, all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 10-21-01
2. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 19 seconds
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 23s
4. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 28s
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb, at same time
6. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 33s
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 39s
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 40s
9. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, at 42s
10. Víctor de la Parte (Esp) CCC, at 45s
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