Simoni Wins Stage 3 of Giro, Seizes Maglia Rosa
Defending champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) has taken the third stage of the Giro and the maglia rosa. Simoni surged away from the lead group in the last two km to take the 191-km ride from Pontremoli to Corno alle Scale in 5:46:09. Damiano Cunego finished second at 0:15, and Franco Pellizotti (Alessio) finished third one second later.
Renzo Mazzoleni (Tenax) made the break of the day. At 36 km, he attacked, and the peloton did not lift a pedal to stop him. Mazzoleni's advantage ballooned to 16:05 at 88 km. At that point, Saeco, Gerolsteiner, and La Francaise des Jeux.com began to chase.
The peloton, aided by cramps that Mazzoleni suffered, gradually reeled in the fugitive. The Saeco-led bunch overhauled Mazzoleni with 16 km left and the road having begun to turn skyward toward the finish 11 km before.
The peloton was more or less intact, but the grade was beginning to become more challenging. In addition, Saeco was pressing the pace. With 15 km left, Leo Giordani (De Nardi) and Nicola Loda (Tenax) attacked. Giordani dropped Loda, but Saeco was having none of it. Giuseppe Muraglia (Formaggio Pinzolo) attacked, and the Saeco-led lead group, which consisted of 40 riders, gave him his liberty before reeling him in with seven km left.
With four km remaining, maglia rosa Brad McGee (La Francaise des Jeux.com) slid out of the back. One km later, Cunego attacked. Simoni countered, and Cunego dropped back to monitor the chasers. Simoni's lead peaked at 0:30 before the chase group fought back. Cunego won the sprint for second, which gave Saeco the 0:20 bonus for first and the 0:12 bonus for second.
In the overall, Simoni leads teammate Cunego by 0:13 and Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet) by 0:21. This state of affairs is not likely to change tomorrow. Stage 4 will be a rolling, 184-km run from Porretta Terme to Civitella Val di Chiana that should end in a bunch sprint. Who will take it? Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)? Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze)? Robbie McEwen (Lotto)? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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