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Evans takes his first victory in Europe since his stage victory at the 2012 Criterium du Dauphiné by dropping Pozzovivo in steep uphill finish at the Giro del Trentino

Photo: Sirotti

CADEL EVANS

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DOMENICO POZZOVIVO

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MIKEL LANDA

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TOUR OF THE ALPS

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24.04.2014 @ 17:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Cadel Evans (BMC) proved that he is a very dangerous Giro d’Italia contender when he won today’s tough third stage of the Giro del Trentino to take his first European victory since his stage win at the 2012 Criterium du Dauphiné. The Australian emerged as the strongest when he dropped Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) in the very steep uphill finish, and so extended his overall lead on the eve of the queen stage.

 

Cadel Evans has had a tough couple of seasons since he became the first Australian to win the Tour de France almost three years ago but now it seems that his travails are finally over. One day after taking the overall lead in the Giro del Trentino, he won the third stage of the race to take his first victory in Europe since his stage win at the 2012 Criterium du Dauphiné.

 

Evans’ BMC team had to work hard all day to catch a very strong 12-rider break that had escaped after a very fast start to the tough stage that virtually had not a single metre of flat road. Luckily for the Americn team, Lampre-Merida had also missed the move and those two teams combined forces to catch the final escapees right the bottom of the final very steep 2.4km climb to the finish in Roncone.

 

With an average gradient of 11.7%, the final ascent was a tough one where only the strongest would prevail, and that rider proved to be Evans. When the peloton started to splinter, he made it into a 5-rider group that emerged on the front as he was joined by the Astana duo of Mikel Landa and Michele Scarponi, Domenico Pozzovivo, and Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani).

 

Bongiorno and Scarponi were the first to drop off and a little later the pace was also too high for Landa to keep up with his rivals. This left just Evans and Pozzovivo to battle it out for the stage win and here Evans emerged as the strongest.

 

Clad in the race leader’s jersey, Evans dropped his Italian rival and crossed the line 3 seconds ahead of the Ag2r rider while Landa followed in third, 6 seconds further adrift. Scarponi made it to the finish in fourth while Igor Anton (Movistar) recovered well to take 5th.

 

Yesterday’s stage winner Edoardo Zardini (Bardini) was unable to keep up with the best and dropped from 2nd to 8th on GC and so Evans extended his overall lead. He now has a comfortable 45-second lead over Pozzovivo while Tiago Machado (NetApp) has continued his consistent showing to ride himself into third, 14 seconds further adrift.

 

Evans now just faces one stage before he can be crowned winner of the 2014 Giro del Trentino but that is a brutal affair. The fourth stage is also the hardest one as it includes two big climbs before it all comes to an end on the 21.5km Monte Bondone which has an average gradient of 6.3%. Evans may enjoy a comfortable lead but on such a hard stage, all is still to play for.

 

A day of ups and downs

The Giro del Trentino continued with a 184.4km stage from Mori to Roncone that virtually had not a single metre of flat road. It was up and down all day and the riders had to go up both the Daone and Passo di Durone climbs before a long, gradual rise to the bottom of the final challenge. The 2.4km climb to the finish had an average of 11.9% and so was guaranteed to provide a spectacular finale.

 

The race took off with four non-starters as sprinters Elia Viviani, Fabio Sabatini (Cannondale) and Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) decided that they had had enough while young climber Davide Formolo was the third Cannondale rider not to take the start. With the stage looking to be a good option for a breakaway, several riders had set their sights on a stage win and so the start was amazingly fast.

 

Neri Sottoli aggressive

Neri Sottoli were particularly active in the opening part but despite their aggression, it was virtually impossible to get clear. After 24km of racing, a small group had a gap that seemed to be lasting but at the 30km mark, Sky and Neri Sottoli had brought it back together.

 

Sergio Pardilla (MTN-Qhubeka) was involved in numerous early attacks and was also part of the action when 11 riders escaped at the 33km mark. Again, however, it was neutralized and after 39km of racing, it was all together, with Sky setting the pace.

 

A strong, big group

The elastic finally snapped when Andrey Zeits (Astana), Adriano Malori (Movistar), Damiano Caruso (Cannondale), Dario Cataldo (Sky), Diego Rosa (Androni), Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural), Mateusz Taciak (CCC), Pardilla, Yonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli) and Jose Mendes (NetApp-Endura) took off. Bardiani had missed the move and so Angelo Pagani set off in pursuit. After a long, hard solo chase, he made the junction to make it a 12-rider escape.

 

With Mendes sitting inside the top 20 on GC, BMC could not allow that big group to get too much leeway and so they hit the front very early to control the situation. Nonetheless, the gap continued to grow and at the 45km mark, it was already 2.20.

 

BMC get some assistance

10km further down the road, the advantage had reached 4 minutes and it reached a maximum of 4.40 100km from the finish. BMC had now started to ride a bit harder and they kept the gap stable between the 4- and 5-minute marks for a long time.

 

Lampre-Merida had also missed the move and so they joined BMC in the pace-setting. That made a difference as the gap started to come down.

 

A battle for points

Malori beat Pardilla and Zeits in the first intermediate sprint while the gap was melting away. At the bottom of the day’s first climb, it was down to 3.15 and it was virtually unchanged by the time Monsalve beat Rosa and Caruso in the battle for the points at the top.

 

The escapees were now digging a bit deeper and so the gap was kept stable between the 3- and 4-minute marks on the run-in to the day’s hardest climb, the Passo Durone. On the slopes, Malori fell off the pace and he was quickly absorbed by the peloton.

 

The peloton starts to splinter

While the peloton started to splinter due to the hard pace set by BMC and Lampre-Merida, the gap came down to 1.25 when 2km remained to the top. Pagani, Piedra, Taciak and Mendes also lost contact with the front group but they managed to rejoin them on the descent.

 

Monsalve beat Cataldo and Pardilla in the sprint at the top to score a few more KOM points while the group had extended their gap to 2 minutes at the top. The gap grew a lot more on the descent and in the valley and reached 2.40 by the time 25km remained.

 

The escapees start to attack

The peloton again upped the pace while Pagani won the final intermediate sprint. BMC and Lampre-Merida still led the chase but they were replaced by Ag2r inside the final 20km.

 

With the gap down to less than a minute, the escapees started to attack each other. Rosa was the first to try and when he was caught, Cataldo gave it a go.

 

Four riders get clear

While BMC and Ag2r controlled the peloton, the Sky rider was joined by Monsalve and Taciak. Cataldo dropped off the pace but was replaced by Caruso and Piedra to make it a four-rider front group.

 

Monsalve won the final intermediate sprint while the escapees were riding really well to extend their gap to 1.26 at the 10km to go mark. However, there was no great cooperation and as Astana had also started to chase, they again started to lose ground.

 

The break is caught

With 6km to go, Piedra had been dropped and the escapees were now only 30 seconds ahead. Astana got some assistance from Lampre and by the time they hit the final climb, it was back together.

 

Sky took the initiative from the bottom, getting some help from Rusvelo but when the peloton exploded inside the final kilometre and the 5-rider front group emerged, the British team had missed the boat. The front group was gradually whittled down to just Evans and Pozzovivo before the race leader took control with a strong acceleration.

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