Peter Sagan of Cannondale this afternoon gatecrashed the expected showdown between Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Andre Greipel of Lotto Belisol, who finished second and third respectively as the Slovak won the sprint finish to Stage 3 of the 2013 Tirreno Adriatico in Narni Scalo.
Sergey Lagutin of Vacansoleil DCM, who had launched a solo bid for the win three kilometres from the end of another rain-soaked stage, had been reeled in as the peloton rounded the final bend into the finishing straight, Sagan getting onto Greipel's wheel, and passing him just before the line.
Cavendish himself was in Sagan's slipstream, but with the pair racing along the right-hand barriers an opportunity to pass the Slovak didn't present itself until it was too late and the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider had to be content with second place as he edged out Greipel. He does, however, retain the race leader's maglia azzurra.
A hectic descent from the climb to Madonna Scoperta, crested 19 kilometres out, saw first Juan Antonio Flecha of Vacansoleil DCM then Lars Boom of Blanco go on the attack.
However, with the peloton breathing down Boom's neck as he passed the finish line in Narni Scalo for the first time with eight mainly flat kilometres still to ride, it was clear the 190 kilometre stage from Indicatore was going to come down to a bunch sprint, despite a final short climb giving Lagutin the chance to launch that final, but ultimately doomed, attack.
Yesterday, Cavendish had criticised his Omega Pharma-Quick Step colleagues as his leadout fell apart with more than a kilometre to ride to the finish in Indicatore, where he finished fifth as Orica-GreenEdge's Matt Goss took the win. Today, however, he was full of praise for his team mates, despite proving unable to finish off the job.
"The guys did a really, really good job today," he reflected. "They were really motivated. Gert Steegmans brought me up in the last 500 meters. I tried to get on Greipel's wheel, but Sagan did a really great job between us in the final. Sagan really deserved this win today.
"I just can't express enough that my guys did an incredible job today. As for tomorrow, it's a hard stage for someone like me heading to Prati di Tivo, but we will try and keep the jersey in the team. We definitely have some guys who can fight for the blue jersey for the next days."
“I’m happy," said Sagan. "It’s the first time I’ve been Mark Cavendish in my career, I think," he added, referring to sprints where both men have been around to contest the finale.
"There was a climb we rode hard and I think the sprinters felt it. In the final 500m Mark had no more lead-out men. I was on Greipel’s wheel, Mark went shoulder to shoulder with me but he was sporting and dropped in behind. It was good for me, anyway, not for him.”
Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 3 result 1. SAGAN Peter CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING 5.15'12 2. CAVENDISH Mark OMEGA PHARMA - QUICK-STEP All at same time 3. GREIPEL André LOTTO BELISOL 4. CIOLEK Gerald MTN - QHUBEKA 5. GOSS Matthew ORICA GREENEDGE 6. CIMOLAI Davide LAMPRE - MERIDA 7. FARRAR Tyler GARMIN SHARP 8. HUSHOVD Thor BMC RACING TEAM 9. BELLETTI Manuel AG2R LA MONDIALE 10. GESCHKE Simon TEAM ARGOS - SHIMANO 11. MARCATO Marco VACANSOLEIL - DCM 12. VANMARCKE Sep BLANCO PRO CYCLING TEAM 13. PIETROPOLLI Daniele LAMPRE - MERIDA 14. MOLLEMA Bauke BLANCO PRO CYCLING TEAM 15. BOLE Grega VACANSOLEIL - DCM 16. GATTO Oscar VINI FANTINI - SELLE ITALIA 17. VOSS Paul TEAM NETAPP - ENDURA 18. HENAO Sergio SKY PROCYCLING 19. DOWSETT Alex MOVISTAR TEAM 20. TAMOURIDIS Ioannis EUSKALTEL EUSKADI Overall standings after Stage 3 1. CAVENDISH Mark OMEGA PHARMA - QUICK-STEP 11.23'08 2. KWIATKOWSKI Michal OMEGA PHARMA - QUICK-STEP 0'07 3. TERPSTRA Niki OMEGA PHARMA - QUICK-STEP 0'09 4. MARTIN Tony OMEGA PHARMA - QUICK-STEP 0'09 5. STYBAR Zdenek OMEGA PHARMA - QUICK-STEP 0'09 6. SAGAN Peter CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING 0'18 7. DOWSETT Alex MOVISTAR TEAM 0'20 8. VISCONTI Giovanni MOVISTAR TEAM 0'20 9. INTXAUSTI Bena MOVISTAR TEAM 0'20 10. COBO Juan Jose MOVISTAR TEAM 0'20
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.