Nizzolo Wins Stage 3 of 2014 Tour de San Luis
“The last three or four kilometers were a little bit uphill so the speed was not so high and it was hard because everyone tried to move up. When it’s bunched up like that it’s a little crazy,” Nizzolo said after being celebrated on the podium.
“In the last kilometer I was in 10th or 15th position with Danilo [Hondo] and Eugenio [Alafaci]. Lampre-Merida was leading the sprint and then (Mark) Cavendish started with Boonen on his wheel and I came from behind and I overtook them with around 100 meters to go.”
The 175 kilometer stage 3 from Tilisarao to Juana Koslay was again a very hot and windy affair, which lead to riders forming echelons in the crosswinds which swept their way through Argentina.
“The wind made a lot of stress during the stage but at the end it did not make such a difference because the last three to four kilometers were uphill and we were covered from the wind. It was a side wind all day and it was really hard. It was a tough stage.” Nizzolo added.
A late five-rider break made a bid to escape the peloton with 25 kilometers to go and built a 40 second lead before the main peloton reeled them back into the fold in preparation for the final sprint. A mass sprint was looking to be a certainty at this point as the sprinters’ teams began to control the front.
In the final kilometer Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Mark Cavendish played the rare role of leadout man when he guided Tom Boonen toward the finish line. Boonen jumped first among the riders in the sprint, but was unable to hold his power.
Meanwhile, Trek Factory Racing played the finish perfectly, waiting until the right moment to unleash Nizzolo. The Italian sprinter came around Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen on the left and won by approximately a bike length.
"Obviously we’re a man down, we’re without Petacchi,” Cavendish complained after finishing the stage. “We had to use two guys near the finish to bring back a small group, and Stijn (Devolder) also had a flat at 15 kilometer and he struggled to come back, so that left it up to me and Tom (Boonen)."
"We went for Tom today, I was leading Tom out so I tried to stay with the Lampre-Merida train and go at 300 meters and drop Tom off at 150 meters. But the wind was weird and the road curved to the left, so we had to leave it open. It was nice, me and Tom working together. Tom’s form is going really good. It’s possible for him to get a win really and it would be good for his head and he’s really strong right now. You can see it when he’s pulling. It’s fine to do and we’re working quite well,” Cavendish added.
Commenting on his 3rd place finish Boonen told RoadCycling.com "I’m already in good condition, but these weather circumstances are really hard. It was the hottest day of my career. I was really suffering. Everybody was really suffering. Going into the sprint I think everything went perfectly, but I think I wanted it too much. I think I went a bit too early."
"Cavendish gave me a good leadout and he still wasn’t finished, but I saw the sign and I thought it was a headwind with a 3 to 4 percent uphill. I had the sensation that we weren’t going fast enough so I just went. So when I came into the wind I felt I was going to lose by the last 30 meters. My legs just blew in the last five seconds. I’m already happy to be where I am form-wise, but if you’re doing all those big efforts you want to do something more than 3rd place."
Nizzolo complained about the very hot weather conditions which exposed the riders to 42 degrees Celsius. “During the stage the feeling was not really good because of the heat,” Nizzolo said about the stage. “But in the final, especially the last five kilometers, I was feeling very, very good, and in the end it worked out for me and team. I am very happy.”
It took today's stage winner Nizzolo 4 hours, 14 minutes and 19 seconds to reach the finish line. American Phillip Gaimon of Team Garmin-Sharp kept the leader`s jersey and has a 1 minute, 47 seconds lead on Marc De Maar of Team United Healthcare. Team GreenEdge's Christian Meier is 3 minutes, 56 seconds behind Gaimon.