The race finally kicked into action on stage three...
Fernando Gaviria takes the Giro by storm
Fernando Gaviria’s Grand Tour debut has been eagerly anticipated since his formidable talent first became clear two years ago, and it was worth the wait.
Having first made an impression on the race by sprinting to fourth on stage two, on the third stage he demonstrated some of wide repertoire of talents to win and move into the overall lead, using his strength and awareness to make it into the front group when the peloton split, then unleashing his explosive turn of pace to win the sprint to the line.
One of the riders he defeated in that sprint was Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo), who has tried in vain for over five years to win a stage at the Giro; Gaviria has managed to do so in just three days. No doubt it will be the first of many.
Is Bob Jungels an overall contender?
Ride of the day goes to Bob Jungels, who looked sensationally strong as he helped instigate the split, rode at the front to solidify the advantage, and produced a brilliant long lead-out for Gaviria ahead of the finishing sprint.
Despite finishing sixth overall last year, the Luxembourg champion hasn’t been mentioned much as a potential overall winner, but brought himself into everyone’s attention by gaining 10 seconds overall on all of his rivals on stage three.
How he performs on stage four’s summit finish to Mount Etna will be revealing.
Its steady gradient suits his diesel-engine style of climbing, and the 10-second gap he opened today means that he has the chance of inheriting the pink jersey should he finish in the lead group.
Crosswinds liven up the race’s last day in Sardinia
If we’re being honest, it hadn’t been a particularly exciting opening to the 100th Giro d’Italia, with the picturesque Sardinian scenery only partially making up for the lack of exciting racing.
But that all changed towards the end of today’s stage, when, as if by an act of God wanting to liven things up, winds nearing 50mph shook the race up.
First a block headwind prompted nervousness in the bunch as teams vied for position at the front, then echelons formed and the race split to pieces upon reaching exposed roads and a crosswind.
It made for thrilling racing, especially thanks to crosswind specialists Quick-Step Floors, who managed to place six of their riders in the front group.
The GC favourites stay attentive
Despite the many splits caused by the crosswinds, all the major favourites for the overall classification finished safely in a 47-man group that came in 13 seconds behind Gavira.
Given that over two-thirds of the field were caught out, it was something of a surprise to find that the biggest name absent from the peloton was Rohan Dennis (BMC), who was at best an outside shout for the GC.
We could perhaps take this as evidence that all of the favourites are on their game, as well as being equipped with strong teams to keep them out of trouble.
André Greipel unfortunate to lose pink
Initially André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) appeared to have done terrific work in defending the pink jersey, positioning himself when and then burying himself to make the split.
But his good work failed to pay-off as he lost momentum at a crucial moment after narrowly avoiding a collision, and was dropped out of the group.
The big German didn’t give up catching back up, at one point even trying to bridge the gap all on his own, but ultimately to no avail as he dropped back into and finished inside the peloton.
He at least has the consolation of leading the points classification, and will wear the purple jersey on Tuesday.