Sagan fires on all engines and wins stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico
Team Cannondale's highly talented young Slovakian all-rounder Peter Sagan won stage 3 of the 2014 Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this afternoon, when he darted away from a group of fast finishers to win the stage by multiple bike lengths.
Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) who finished second in the stage, which concluded on a short uphill, gained 6 bonus seconds and replaced his teammate Mark Cavendish as race leader. Kwiatkowski now leads Tirreno-Adriatico by 10 seconds to other teammate Rigoberto Uran. Simon Clarke finished third in today's stage ahead of Team BMC Racing's Philippe Gilbert.
"The finale was really confusing. Everybody wanted to be in the front today starting from the last 10 km. Longo Borghini took me to leading position at 3 km to go. It was not easy to stay there. I'd lost some positions before the uphill, but then Bennati's action enabled me to take the front," Sagan explained to RoadCycling.com after the stage and continued "Then, when Gilbert attacked I was not worried. I think he did it a little bit early, but most importantly for me it was the great feeling I had. Of course, I looked to the other riders, but my main focus was on doing my best. The final uphill was hard, a brutal effort, but worth it in the end."
"It was an important victory for me to prove that my condition is approaching its peak," Sagan added. "I'm very happy, of course. This win is good for morale, for me, and my teammates as well, who need a special thanks for the great support they give me every day along every stage. I dedicate the win to my mother, who is not in good health."
By finishing second in today's stage, Kwiatkowski took the lead in the general classification. Kwiatkowski's performance was the result of a powerful lead-out by teammate Tony Martin of Germany, which caused chaos at the front of the peloton and ignited the Polish rocket.
When asked to comment on his chances of taking the overall race victory, Kwiatkowski said "You want to do well in every race and, to do so, you have to believe you can win. I was 4th in this race last year. I’m motivated, and I’ve had a good start to the race, so why not? I know the big stages still are ahead of us, and that the race has really just begun, but it’s better to be in this position.”
Kwiatkowski believes Tinkoff-Saxo's Alberto Contador is his main rival for the overall win. "You can see that Contador has a lot of support from his teammates. They were on the front all day. He looked strong at the Tour of the Algarve, so I think he’s the biggest contender for victory in this Tirreno-Adriatico. He’s in really good form and he was looking good today. Having said that, the Sky team was always in the front today as well, so tomorrow we will see."
Tomorrow's 244 kilometer stage 4 of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico is expected to have a decisive effect on the general classification. The stage features plenty of climbing in general and the final 4.5 kilometer of the route is a climb averaging a 6.4 percent gradient and culminating in a 10 percent ramp with about one kilometer to