Race over for Geraint Thomas?
The biggest headline from stage three of the Giro d’Italia 2020 is Geraint Thomas’s implosion before the race hit the climb to Mount Etna.
British Grand Tour star Thomas came into the race as the overall favourite, but disaster struck early for him as he crashed in the neutralised section before the start of the race.
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The peloton did wait for Thomas to rejoin, but the fall had already taken its toll as Thomas started to lose contact as the paced ramped up in the final 30km.
Despite a considerable effort to get back on, the Welshman lost contact again and finally gave up the chase, joining the grupetto and crawling to the finish.
This is a familiar feeling for Thomas, who abandoned the 2017 Giro three days after a crash.
The 2018 Tour de France winner is now out of overall contention having lost around 11 minutes and the question is now whether he will continue to race, or if his injuries will force him out of the race once again.
Simon Yates unable to repeat former glory on Etna
In what proved to be a disastrous day for British hopefuls, Simon Yates was another overall favourite to suffer a major blow to his ambitions.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider looked motivated early in the stage with his team riding strong on the front of the bunch, but it wasn’t long before the squad pulled off the front and disappeared into the peloton.
As the race hit the final climb to Etna, the reason became clear as Thomas was dropped with around 8km of the volcano left to race.
Yates battled valiantly and his collapse wasn’t as total as that of Thomas, but he had still lost more than three minutes to the other favourites by the line, now with three minutes to make up on his rivals in the general classification.
After winning Tirreno-Adriatico on the eve of the Giro, Yates was the next favourite in line behind Thomas but his chances of winning the race just took a huge blow on only stage three.
EF Pro Cycling live up to the hype
US WorldTour squad EF have dominated the discussion in the lead up to the Giro, but not because of their riding.
The squad, run by Jonathan Vaughters, unveiled their striking and divisive new kit on the eve of the race, a collaboration between Rapha and streetwear company Palace.
While it’s still not clear if those in the streetwear and skateboarding scene will find a new home in professional cycling, the team have lived up to all the hype with a major stage victory early in the Giro, as Ecuadorian champion Jonathan Caicedo made it into the day’s breakaway and rode to victory.
Caicedo is a late bloomer at the highest level, having jumped from Continental level to the WorldTour in 2019.
The 27-year-old has also catapulted himself up the overall standings, moving 33 places into second, now on the same time as pink jersey João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
Steven Kruijswijk is right back in the race
We’re only three days into the Giro but this race is looking just as unpredictable as the rest of 2020.
Jumbo-Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk had initially dropped back on GC in the opening time trial, sitting more than a minute back on Geraint Thomas.
But one stage can change everything in Grand Tour racing and the Dutchman is right back in the race after a solid performance on Etna.
Kruijswijk, who came within days of victory in the 2016 Giro, finished with the remaining favourites on stage three and is now less than 30 seconds down on Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) and 20 seconds behind Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo).
If he has carried similar form to last year, Kruijswijk could be the race leader in waiting by the end of the first week.
Atmospheric Mount Etna delivers the drama once again
Etna has become a semi-regular feature on the Giro in recent years and never ceases to impress.
In 2018 it was Mitchelton-Scott who dominated proceedings, as Esteban Chaves took the stage and Simon Yates moved into pink during his Giro near-miss.
This year’s ascent caused some huge cracks in the general classification as riders battled to the top in pouring rain.
Wilco Kelderman emerged as one of the strongest on the day, putting in a huge surge late on the climb to break clear and steal a few seconds on his rivals.
The Dutchman is now in fourth-place overall, 37 seconds off the race lead, and is the best-placed of the GC contenders so far.
Jakob Fuglsang also reinvigorated Astana’s chances at success after a rough start to the Giro, losing both Miguel Ángel López and Aleksandr Vlasov in the first two days.
Vincenzo Nibali proved once again why he’s a constant threat in a Grand Tour, staying out of trouble and finishing strong on the day to remain well in contention as the two main favourites fell away.
The best placed Brits in the race after Etna are James Knox (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) in 16th, 1-40 off the lead, and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) in 24th, 3-12 off the pace.
But if there’s one thing Etna proved, it’s that nothing is certain in the Giro d’Italia.