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After a bad day on stage 2, Pozzovivo returned to his best by taking a solo win on stage 3 of the Giro del Trentino; Porte was third with a time loss of 5 seconds and defended his overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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DOMENICO POZZOVIVO

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MIKEL LANDA

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RICHIE PORTE

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TOUR OF THE ALPS

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23.04.2015 @ 16:10 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One day after dropping out of GC contention, Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) was back to his best on the third stage of the Giro del Trentino where the tiny Italian took a big solo win. Having attacked the favourites with 2km to go, he held a four-rider chase group at bay to win the stage ahead of Mikel Landa (Astana) and Richie Porte (Sky) who comfortable defended his overall lead.

 

Going into the Giro del Trentino, Domenico Pozzovivo was widely tipped to be the biggest rival for favourite Richie Porte. With a stage win and podium spot in the Volta a Catalunya, the Italian had had a great start to the year and the mountainous Italian race has always been a happy hunting ground for the 2012 winner of the race.

 

However, Pozzovivo was surprisingly far off the pace in the first mountain stage where he lost 1.24 to the dominant Porte and lost all opportunities to take a second overall win in the race. The result was worrying for the Ag2r leader who is approaching Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro d’Italia which are both big goals for him.

 

Luckily it seems that it was just an off-day for the strong Italian as he bounced back with a great stage win in the second mountain stage of the race. He did everything perfectly to make a well-timed attack and complete an excellent showing by the Ag2r team.

 

The Frenchmen had played their first card early in the race when they had sent Romain Bardet on the attack. However, the French talent decided to sit up from a 16-rider front group to give his teammates Hubert Dupont and Hugo Houle a better chance of making it to the finish.

 

However, Colombia had missed the move and they worked hard to keep the break at a short distance by the time they hit the steep Passo Redebus in the finale. Here the race exploded to pieces but Ag2r always seemed to be one step ahead of the rest.

 

At the top, Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) was the lone leader of the race but he was only 12 seconds ahead of the chase trio of Bardet, Diego Rosa (Astana) and an impressive Dupont who was the only survivor from the early break. The trio caught Torres and those four riders had an advantage of 42 seconds when they hit the bottom of the final 8km climb.

 

Of course Dupont quickly paid the price for his hard efforts but the remaining three attackers were still more than 40 second ahead when they entered the final 5km. However, Sky had now kicked into action and as attacks started to fire from the peloton, the trio was caught with 3km to go.

 

At this point, Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) launched a strong attack with Porte and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) on his wheel. Pozzovivo didn’t react immediately but when the trio slowed down, he flew past them and quickly got an advantage.

 

From there, he went into time trialling mode and despite several reshufflings of the chase group and a few attacks, no one managed to catch the Italian. He had plenty of time to celebrate his win as he crossed the line with a 5-second advantage over a four-rider chase group of Mikel Landa, Porte, Bardet and Cunego.

 

The third place was enough for Porte to defend his lead and he goes into the final day with a 22-second advantage over Landa. Despite some tough climbing in a hilly first part, the stage is not overly tough as it ends with a few laps of a circuit that includes a short, steep 12% climb before it flattens out for the final few kilometres. A breakaway could have a chance but it could also be a day for the classics specialists to sprint for the win from a small group.

 

Another mountain stage

After yesterday’s first battle in the mountains, it was another tough affair on the third day of the Giro del Trentino. The riders would travel 183.8km from Ala to a summit finish on Fierozzo val dei Mocheni on a day with constant ups and downs. After a hilly first half, the riders would tackle three categorized climbs in the finale, with the penultimate ascent of the Passo Redebus being the hardest. From there they descended to the bottom of the final 8km climb which was a relatively easy affair with gradients of mostly 4-6%.

 

The riders had bright sunshine when they left Ala for their ride in the Trentino mountains. Three riders were absent as Mikel Nieve (Sky), Aleksandr Komin (Rusvelo) and Linus Gerdemann (Cult) all decided to leave the race at the midpoint.

 

A big break gets clear

With bigger time gaps having opened up, there was a chance that the breakaway would make it and so the race got off to a very fast start with constant attacking. The first promising moved was instigated my Paul Voss (Bora-Argon 18) at the 15km mark and he was joined by Hubert Dupont (Agr2), Simone Andreeta (Bardiani), Gustav Erik Larsson (Cult), Omar Fraile (Caja Rural), and Lukas Pöstlberger (Tirol). However, the peloton reacted quickly and 4km later it seemed that it was all back together.

 

Just before the junction was made, however, Hugo Houle (Ag2r), Davide Malacarne (Astana), Nathan Brown (Cannondale-Garmin), Marco Frapporti, Fabio Taborre (both Androni), Mauro Finetto (Southeast), Artem Ovechkin (Rusvelo), Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) and Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18) managed to bridge the gap to forma  15-rider front group that built an advantage of 35 seconds at the 23km mark. Jorge Castiblanco (Colombia) took off in pursuit and fought hard to make the junction.

 

Bardet takes off

The gap reached 1.54 at the 32km mark as the peloton briefly slowed down while Castiblanco continued to lose ground and so decided to wait for the bunch. Bardiani and Ag2r were patrolling the front before the French team sent Romain Bardet on the attack.

 

This forced Team Sky to react but they could not prevent Bardet from getting closer to the leaders. After 41km of racing, he was just 30 seconds behind while the peloton was trailing at 1.08.

 

Bardet sits up

Bardet made the junction at a point when the peloton was still 1.15 behind and Sky were forced to ride hard. They kept the gap between 1.00 and 1.30 for a while before Bardet decided to sit up to give his teammates Houle and Dupont a better chance of making it.

 

This prompted Sky to loosen their group and at the 58km mark, the gap was back up to 2.50. 12km later it was 2.50 and it reached a maximum of 3.15 after 77km of racing.

 

Sky take control

While Voss beat Pöstlberger and Benedetti in the intermediate sprint, Mario Schoibl (Tirol) left the race. At this point, the peloton had slightly accelerated and brought the gap down to 2.55.

 

Frapporti had an untimely puncture but he managed to rejoin the break in time for the climbing hostilities to start. Meanwhile, Alexander Evtushenko (Rusvelo) left the race and Sky kept the gap stable between 2.30 and 3.00.

 

Colombia come to the fore

The British team got come assistance from the Colombia squad as they approached the first categorized climb. As they hit the climb, they started to accelerate and at the 110km mark, they had reduced their deficit to 2.15.

 

Ovechkin was the first to get dropped from the break and later Andreeta and Frapporti also lost contact. At the top of the climb, Pöstlberger led Malacarne and Dupont over the line in the KOM sprint while the peloton crested the summit 2.32 later.

 

The break splits up

Frapporti managed to rejoin the break on the descent and instead it was his teammate Taborre who got distanced a little later. While Simone Stortoni (Androni) abandoned, Sky and Colombia accelerated and at the 130km mark, they had reduced the deficit to 1.50.

 

Taborre managed to rejoin the leaders but it was a short-lived affair. The fast pace by the peloton forced the escapees to react and so he was soon distanced again.

 

Colombia accelerate

The break was now splintering as Frapporti and Finetto also lost contact. In the peloton, Colombia was doing a lot of damage as riders were now getting distanced.

 

Colombia’s efforts paid off as the gap was only 1.04 when the peloton entered the final 40km of the stage. As they hit the Passo Redebus, it was down to 55 seconds.

 

The break splinters

In the hard fight for position, Benjamin Brkic and Markus Freiberger (Tirol) went down in a crash. Meanwhile, the steep slopes had an immediate impact on the break as Brown, Larsson and Houle all got distanced.

 

Nippo-Vini Fantini had now taken over the pace-setting in the splintering bunch. Pötslberger was the next to get distanced from the break which was now down to just 6 riders.

 

The attacking starts

The attacking now started from the bunch as Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani), Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) and Walter Pedraza (Colombia) took off. The latter got dropped but Bongiorno and Torres picked up Houle who was in lone pursuit of the leaders.

 

At the 148km mark, Bongiorno, Houle and Torres were 18 seconds behind the leaders while Pedraza and Pöstlberger had lost 42 seconds. The peloton was 9 seconds further adrift.

 

Astana take control

While the three chasers joined the leaders, the peloton caught Pedraza and Pöstlberger. As they hit the steepest part of the climb, the gap was 43 seconds and at this point Rasmus Quaade (Cult) left the race.

 

Only Dupont and Fraile could keep up with Bongiorno and Torres and those four riders entered the final 25km with an advantage of 34 seconds. With Malacarne no longer in the lead, however, Astana had now started to chase.

 

Torres the lone leader

Fraile was the next to get dropped from the break and he was picked up by Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) who had attacked out of the peloton and joined forces with Benedetti. However, they were quickly caught and instead Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) gave it a go. The American didn’t get much of an advantage and was brought back.

 

Torres and Dupont distanced Bongiorno while Diego Rosa (Astana) made an attack from the peloton, passing the fading Bongiorno. Moments later Torres distanced Dupont and he crested the summit as the lone leader. Bardet had again attacked from the peloton and he had joined forces with Dupont and Rosa. At the top, they were 12 seconds behind the Colombian while the peloton was at 40 seconds. Rosa led Dupont and Bardet over the line.

 

A front quartet is formed

The three chasers caught Torres on the descent and with 15km to go, the lead quartet held a 39-second advantage over the 30-35-rider peloton. They worked well together and at the bottom of the final climb, they had extended it to 43 seconds.

 

As they started to climb, Dupont got dropped and he was quickly picked up by the peloton which was now led by Sky. With 5km to go, the front trio still had an advantage of 44 seconds and things were looking promising for the escapees.

 

Siutsou hits the front

Kanstantsin Siutsou had now hit the front for Team Sky and this had a big impact. With 3km to go, the gap was down to just 29 seconds and the Belarusian quickly neutralized an attack from Meintjes.

 

Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani) tried to attack twice and even though he didn’t get clear, his accelerations brought the gap down to just 10 seconds. This was the signal for Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) to try and he was joined by Porte and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani).

 

Pozzovivo makes his move

The trio passed the three leaders before Pozzovivo managed to go straight past them. While he pressed on, the chase group reshuffled as Bardet, Rosa, Torres Mikel Landa (Astana) and Porte formed his nearest chasers.

 

Pozzovivo entered the final kilometre with an 8-second advantage and he even managed to extend it to 13 seconds as he hit the final 500m. From there the outcome was never in doubt and as he crossed the line, he still had a 5-second advantage over Landa, Porte, Bardet and Cunego.

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