One-day specialist has his day in the sun as GC contenders let him go on last descent

Luca Paolini took the spoils on stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia as the stage sparked into life with a no-holds barred descent of the Sella di Catona contested by the big guns. Cadel Evans finished second in the sprint of non-sprinters, and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal came in third.

As is ever the case, a break went out although it was kept at a reasonable distance by the peloton. Fabio Taborre, Manuele Boaro, Willem Wauters, Jarlison Pantano, Bert De Backer, Dirk Bellemakers and Jackson Rodriguez were the men that went up the road, their lead increasing to seven minutes before the peloton stepped up the pace to reel them back in. Taborre went off the front on a solo mission with 50km to go but with 25km, and just the ascent of the Sella di Catona and the descent to the finish to go, he was swallowed up by the lead riders. Salvatore Puccio slid out of contention on the final climb to relinquish the Maglia Rosa which passes to Paolini.

Hesjedal attacked with 25km to go and then went again with Valerio Agnoli and Luca Paolini over the top of the climb and onto the tight and technical descent to the finish. Carlos Alberto Betancur and Tanel Kangert both put their bike in a hedge on the way down as Hesjedal and the lead group pushed the pace on the downhill.

A final short climb brought a group including all the main favourites together, with around 20 riders hitting the last descent together. Luca Paolini jumped off the front with 7km to go with Blanco Pro Cycling chasing at the head of the main group, but both Blanco riders, and Michele Scarponi of Lampre, went down on a hairpin 4km from the end. Scarponi had to wait for a new bike, losing a hatful of time.

Giro d’Italia Stage 3 result

1  PAOLINI Luca            KAT 05:43:50
2  EVANS Cadel             BMC Same time
3  HESJEDAL Ryder          GRS
5  SANCHEZ Samuel          EUS
6  CARUSO Giampaolo        KAT
7  WEENING Pieter          OGE
8  WIGGINS Bradley         SKY
9  INTXAUSTI Benat         MOV
10 GESINK Robert           BLA
11 KISERLOVSKI Robert      RLT
12 DANIELSON Thomas        GRS
13 SANTAROMITA Ivan        BMC
14 URAN Rigoberto          SKY
15 AGNOLI ValerioI         AST
16 TROFIMOV Yury           KAT
17 NIBALI Vincenzo         AST
18 HENAO Sergio Luis       SKY at 00:36
19 BATTAGLIN Enrico        BAR    00:49
20 VISCONTI Giovanni       MOV    00:50

Overall standings after Stage 4

1  PAOLINI Luca            KAT 09:04:32
2  WIGGINS Bradley         SKY    00:17
3  URAN Rigoberto          SKY    00:17
4  INTXAUSTI Benat         MOV    00:26
5  NIBALI Vincenzo         AST    00:31
6  AGNOLI Valerio          AST    00:31
7  HESJEDAL Ryder          GRS    00:34
8  CARUSO Giampaolo        KAT    00:36
9  TROFIMOV Yury           KAT    00:36
10 HENAO Sergio            SKY    00:37

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.