Fernando Gaviria says he believes rival Elia Viviani is the true winner of stage three of the Giro d’Italia after the Italian was relegated for dangerous sprinting.
Gaviria finished second at the line but was handed victory after the race jury ruled Viviani had cut across Trek-Segafredo’s Matteo Moschetti in the sprint.
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Colombian sprinter Gaviria did not celebrate on the podium and has vowed to take a “clear win” before the end of the Giro.
Speaking after the stage, the 24-year-old said: “This isn’t really how I wanted to win and that’s why I didn’t celebrate on the podium.
“I don’t think he did it on purpose – he came straight out from [Pascal] Ackermann’s slipstream.
“This is the first time I’ve won because of the relegation rule but I guess these things happen, especially in sprinting.
“Regardless of the result, my team did a great job and I hope to repay them with a clear win as soon as possible.”
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Viviani celebrated victory in the Italian national champion’s jersey after a sedate pace on stage three, but the race jury later announced their decision to strip him of the win.
An infuriated Viviani was seen walking to the broadcast area of the finish to watch the sprint back before he sped back to the team bus.
Quick-Step sports director Rik Van Slycke defended his sprinter, saying “if you want to pass a rider you have to change lines.”
The controversy overshadowed Gaviria’s fifth career Giro d’Italia stage win, taken amidst a stacked sprint field including Viviani, Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ).
Stage four is a punchy day with three categorised climbs along the route from Orbetello to Frascati.
The closing 20km is a gradual rise to the line with a sharp final uphill 2km to decide the victor.