May 10, 2005 – Danilo De Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) outsprinted a split bunch and won today’s third stage of the Giro, but the big winner was Paolo Bettini (Quickstep), who managed to hold the front of the race and claim the overall leader’s jersey.
The early stages of a big tour are traditionally left to the sprinters, but those watching this year are beginning to understand the possible reason why Italian uber-sprinter Mario Cippolini decided to call it quits ahead of this year’s Giro: with climbs, twists and challenges near the finish of the “sprinters’ stages”, this year’s Giro may be a tougher one than usual for the sprinters. Today was no exception: as in the first stage, today’s third stage, 210km from Diamante to Giffoni Valle Piana, had a climb near the finish that threw a wrench in the works for the big guns.
An early break by yet another Australian (albeit with dual Dutch/Australian citizenship), Russell Van Hout (Colombia-Selle Italia), got the day moving. Riding alone ahead of a dozing pack, he built no less than a 12-minute advantage before being swallowed up close to 20km from the finish after being in front alone for close to 180 kms.
On the climb to Santa Tecla, with just under 15km remaining, the pack split under an attack by Paolo Bettini (Quickstep), with pink jersey Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) caught in the second group. On the descent to the finish De Luca’s Liquigas team closed the gap and set up a tremendous sprint, with Stefano Garzelli finally launching his team leader to the line and De Luca outsprinting Damiano Cunego (Lampre). Bettini, solidly tucked in behind the stage winner and comfortably at the front throughout the closing stages, took over the pink leader’s jersey.
Canadians Ryder Hesjedal and Mike Barry (Discovery) finished together in a 60-man group, 5:40 behind the stage winner.
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 5.24.17 (37.929 km/h)
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
3 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
4 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze
5 Francisco J. Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step
7 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
8 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Quick.Step
9 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Credit Agricole
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team
134 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 5:40
135 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team
GC after stage 3
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step 15.09.35
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.09
3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 0.17
4 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.23
5 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 0.26
112 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 6.27
122 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 6.39