The Italian flag is back waving at the Tour of the Alps, two year after Matteo Montaguti’s stage win in Cles: credits to Fausto Masnada, Androni-Sidermec’s 25-year old who conquered #TotA’s stage 3 on Wednesday April 24th, Salorno/Salurn-Baselga di Piné of just 106,3 km.
Short stage with a significant elevation gain (roughly 2.700 meters), and much feared by GC leader Pavel Sivakov (Team Sky), who expected plenty of attacks from the most dangerous rivals. The prediction proved spot, particularly on the final ascent to Baselga, but once again today the Russian was supported by a Team Sky in full strenght, with Chris Froome shining in an unusual role as key domestique.
“It’s quite crazy if I think of it,” Sivakov said afterwards, with a new fuchsia jersey on his shoulders. “Not only I had a four-time Tour de France winner as domestique, but Chris has been a constant source for advice, also on how to handle myself in the race. In several occasions, he told me to keep calm, and not respond to the accelerations: my team did an amazing job, and even in the finale I never felt under too much pressure.”
From their side, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe) did their part in trying to put the leader on the back foot, but they always found Chris Froome’s pace bringing them back, with youngsters Sivakov and Geoghegan Hart on his wheel. In the mutual control among the favorites, Fausto Masnada broke away from the selected 10-man group inside the final kilometer: his swift attack proved to be the right one, opening just enough space to hold off and raise his arms. Behind him, Geoghegan Hart won the chasers’ sprint at 4 seconds, ahead of Majka and Nibali, whilst Sivakov’s 7th place meant he would live another day in fuchsia. A generous Chris Froome was 13th at 12 seconds.
“That’s a big win today,” said Masnada, “and my first win in Italy, against rivals of this values, is pretty special. I knew my legs were good, today Mattia Cattaneo and I were supposed to sit up and play our cards in the finale, and so we did. Halfway through the final climb, I had lost a few meters under the attacks by Majka and Nibali, but I managed to come back with my pace, and find the perfect timing for the final kick. My dream now is winning a Giro d’Italia stage: now I broke the ice, I know that it’s feasible.”
Showing off in the early race was a 12-man breakaway featuring Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Manuele Boaro (Astana Pro Team), Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom Rusvelo), Elie Gesbert (Team Arkea Samsic), Nicola Bagioli (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizané), Carlos Julian Quintero (Manzana Postobon), Francesco Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Nicolau Beltran (Caja Rural Seguros RGA), Fernando Barcelo Aragon (Euskadi- Murias), Simone Velasco (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-Ktm) Michele Corradini and Marco Tizza (Nazionale Italiana). Their advantage has been constantly kept under 3 minutes, but the final surrender – Gesbert – was caught only on the climb to Baselga, under the pace set by Bahrain and Sky.
All the four leaders’ jerseys were confirmed: Pavel Sivakov wears both Fuchsia and White, whilst Samitier (Euskadi-Murias) and Kuen (Vorarlberg-Santic) held on the green and red jerseys.
Tomorrow, Thursday, the fourth stage will propose 134 tricky kilometers from Baselga di Piné to Cles, all of them in Trentino. Several demanding ascents will be on the riders’. Way, starting with the dreadful Forcella di Brez (5,9 km at a 10,2% average gradient) to follow with Passo Predaia (10 km at 7,5% average), peaking with 19 km to go, and the final “Pontara” drag with 3.000 meters to go, before the finish in the heart of Val di Non.
It will also be time for an important first time: an electric motorbike, Energica Eva EsseEsse9 will debut among the moto relays, while the sportive Energica Ego from the Moto-E championship, in its Team Trentino Gresini livery, will open the way for the pack until the official start.
Tour of the Alps stage 4 will be live on TV from 14.00 to 15.30 CET, thanks to the PMG Sport production.
TV: Eurosport 1 (Europe, Asia), RaiSport (Italy), TV2 (Denmark), Equipe TV (France), Eurosport Italia (Italy), Bike Channel (Italy), Eleven (North America), EBU/Eurovisione, SkySport (New Zealand).
LIVE STREAMING: Eurosport Player (Europe, Asia, Australia), pmgsport.it, repubblica.it, tuttobiciweb.it, inbici.net, cicloweb.it, cyclingpro.net/spaziociclismo, lapresse.it, flobikes.com, (USA, Canada, South America, Asia, Australia, UK), globalcyclingnetwork.com (USA, Canada, South America), Facebook @PMGliveSport.