Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) powered to victory on stage three of the 2022 Giro d'Italia, holding off his rivals with a long-range sprint.
The Manxman was dropped off by his final lead-out man Michael Mørkøv with just under 300m to go and was able to hold his effort all the way to the line to beat Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).
It's Cavendish's first stage victory at the Giro d'Italia since stage 21 of the 2013 edition and his 16th career victory at the race.
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) retains his overall lead of 11 seconds over Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) after safely finishing in the main peloton.
How it happened
The third stage of the 2022 Giro d’Italia would be the last of its stay in Hungary, with the peloton set to take on a largely flat 201km route from Kaposvár to Balatonfüred.
An almost guaranteed day for the sprinters, only three men were bold enough to opt for a day out front in the breakaway. As on stage one, two riders from Drone Hopper - Androni Giocattoli escaped at the drop of the flag; Mattia Bais and Filippo Tagliani this time joined by Samuele Rivi of Eolo-Kometa.
They pushed on and gained a gap just south of seven minutes before the peloton took more control; race leader Mathieu van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix team doing the lion’s share of the work. For the most part though the peloton took a relaxed approach to the day, cruising along the wide Hungarian roads with time to chat.
The advantage of the break sat around 2-30 as the race drifted into the final 100km, but there was a sense the peloton was beginning to organise in preparation for the catch with around 60km remaining and the gap quickly began to decrease.
Inside 50km the break had just shy of a minute, with Lotto-Soudal and Alpecin-Fenix quickly reeling them in. Five kilometres later the peloton were just 300m behind the three escapees, and with the catch now inevitable Rivi decided to set off on his own with 44km to go. Bais was able to follow and now the break was now just two. Their renewed efforts were rewarded with an easing in the peloton and the gap jumped from 30 seconds back to over a minute.
With 34.5km to go Rivi tried again to get away solo but was unable to shake Bais. The pair still held over 30 seconds on the peloton, who were biding their time before the approach to the sprint finish began in earnest.
After a bit more cat-and-mouse between Rivi and Bais, they were finally hoovered up by the bunch with 28km to go, as Ineos, EF Education, and UAE Emirates came to the front to protect their GC riders.
Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma) and Rick Zabel (Israel-Premier Tech) briefly escaped for the king of the mountains points at 12.4km to go, won by Eenkhoorn, who then held off the peloton solo for six kilometres before being caught.
As the peloton approached the final few kilometres the sprint trains were out in full force, Alpecin-Fenix leading Jakub Mareczko to the front along with Van der Poel, before Quick-Step then emerged for Mark Cavendish.
The Belgian team hit the front with just over a kilometre to go and put in an almost perfect lead out for Cavendish, with Michael Morkov pulling him to just under 300m to go.
Cavendish then launched his sprint with Fernando Gaviria following on the left of the road and Arnaud Demare on the right, but neither rider could come around the Manxman, who kept his speed all the way to the line to take another memorable Grand Tour victory.
Giro d'Italia 2022, stage three: Kaposvár to Balatonfüred (201km)
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, in 4-56-39
2. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
4. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux
5. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
6. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
7. Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
8. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal
9. Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM
10. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious, all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, in 9-43-50
2. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange-Jayco, at 11s
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 16s
4. Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Team BikeExchange-Jayco, at 24s
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
6. Ben Tulett (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time
7. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma, at 28s
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at same time
9. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 29s
10. Mauro Schmid (Sui) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, at same time
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