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The Italian sprinter shows superior speed in the uphill sprint to pass Tom Boonen who had been given a perfect lead-out from teammate Mark Cavendish; Gaimon defends his overall lead

Photo: Trek Factory Racing








22.01.2014 @ 22:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Trek Factory Racing continued the perfect start to their first year in the professional peloton when Giacomo Nizzolo won today's third stage of the Tour de San Luis. The Italian sprinter produced immense power on the uphill finishing straight to pass Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) - who had been led out by teammate Mark Cavendish - while Philip Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) finished safely in the bunch to defend his overall lead.


Trek Factory Racing could not have wished a better start to their first season in the peloton. Hayden Roulston won the New Zealand national championships in their very first race and yesterday Julian Arredondo beat the world elite on the first mountain stage in the Tour de San Luis.


Today the team continued their success when the team's best sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo continued his rise towards the top of the sprinting hierarchy. In a hard uphill sprint on the third stage of the Argentinean stage race, he took the second win in a row for his American team.


After the big bummer on stage 1 where the breakaway stayed away to the finish, the peloton was in no mood to make a similar mistake and they caught the early breakaway very quickly. This opened the door for more attacks but nothing could prevent a big sprint on the hard finishing straight.


Lampre-Merida took control as Filippo Pozzato and Maximilano Richeze tried to lead out Sacha Modolo but the Italian team was passed by Mark Cavendish who had decided to play the role of lead-out man for Tom Boonen. The Belgian opened a long sprint but ran out of power near the end.


Instead, it was Nizzolo who proved his speed by coming around the classics star to take an early win in 2014. Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) also passed Boonen who had to be content with 3rd.


Philip Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) had an easy - albeit hot - day in the saddle and finished safely in the bunch to defend his 1.47 lead over Marc De Maar (Unitedhealthcare). However, he faces a much harder test tomorrow when he can again expect to come under attack from the pre-race favourites who hope to regain some lost time in the difficult fourth stage.


The mostly flat route ends with the 10,5km Cerro el Amago climb which has an average gradient of 7,2% but is very uneven and has a number of much steeper sections. From the top, only 1,8km remain and the GC is expected to be turned upside down in what appears to be the queen stage of the race.


A flat stage

After yesterday's battle in the Argentinean mountains, the sprinters were expected to get back into action on the 175,8km third stage of the race. Only one categorized climb and some rolling terrain would challenge the riders on the mostly flat run from Tilisarao to Juana Koslay. However,  the final kilometres were all uphill and the sprint was expected to suit the powerful guys more than they pure sprinters.


Many of the local South American riders wanted to be part of the early action as they had all seen that the big sprinters could be foiled by the escapees as it had happened on stage 1. Hence, it took some time for the early break to be established and the first serious move of 6 riders was quickly brought back.


The break is formed

The fierce early pace brought some riders into difficulty but things slowed down when the right breakaway was finally formed. Juan Curuchet (Argentina), Julian Barrientos (Argentina), Clement Koretzky (Bretagne), Ignacio Maldonado (Uruguay) and Patricio Almonacid (Chile) took off and after a small chase Ruben Ramos (Argentina) managed to join them.


The sextet gradually build up a gap of 5.30 but the peloton had learnt from their previous mistakes. The main group increased the pace to keep the advantage under control and started to slowly reel in the escapees.


A battle for points

Up ahead, the riders could battle it out for the points on the day's only climb where Almonacid beat Maldonado and Barrientos. At the day's first intermediate sprint, it was Curuchet who crossed the line first, with Almonacid and Maldonado taking the minor places.


The peloton did not leave anything to chance and started to accelerate much earlier than usual. The fierce pace saw several riders getting into difficulty in the rolling terrain while a number of mechanicals also played a role. One of the riders to ask for assistance from his team car was Nairo Quintana (Movistar) but he was quickly brought back to the peloton.


New attacks

The peloton slowed down a bit and allowed the gap to stay at around 2 minutes for a little while but when they again accelerated, it didn't take long for them to catch the breakaway. With 62km to go, things were back together for the first time.


However, this only prompted more riders to try their hand. A quintet managed to build a 20-second gap but it was reeled in before the second intermediate sprint 26,1km from the finish. Here Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE) beat Jonathan Guzman (Chile) and defending champion Daniel Diaz (San Luis).


Diaz back in action

Diaz had lost all hopes of a repeat win when he finished more than 2 minutes behind stage winner Julian Arredondo (Trek) yesterday) but he is intent on still playing a role in the race. With teammate Alfredo Lucero, he created a new front group that also contained Weening and Marco Marcato (Cannondale).


The quartet managed to build up a 36-second advantage and the peloton had a hard time catching them. Marcato and Lucero fell off the pace but Diaz and Weening insisted until they were finally caught a few kilometres from the finish.


Lampre-Merida takes control

As the peloton headed up the finishing straight for the uphill sprint, Lampre-Merida took control, with Filippo Pozzato and Maximiliano Richeze leading out Sacha Modolo who had won the sprint of the peloton on the opening day. However, it was Mark Cavendish who hit the front, trying to prepare the sprint for teammate Tom Boonen.


Boonen started a long sprint and looked like he would take the win but Giacomo Nizzolo proved superior speed to power up the middle of the road to take the win. Francisco Ventoso also manage to pass the multiple classics winner while Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was 4th.



1. Giacomo Nizzolo 4.14.19

2. Francisco Ventoso

3. Tom Boonen

4. Tyler Farrar

5. Davide Appollonio

6. Damiano Caruso

7. Taylor Phinney

8. Juan Esteban Arango

9. Edwin Avila

10. Marc De Maar


General classification:

1. Philip Gaimon 12.34.53

2. Marc De Maar +1.47

3. Christian Meier +3.56

4. Peter Stetina +4.16

5. Julian Arredondo

6. Darwin Atapuma +4.19

7. Nairo Quintana

8. Haimar Zubeldia +4.21

9. Domenico Pozzovivo

10. Ivan Santaromita


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