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After three consecutive stage wins for Team Sky, Viviani beats Sky sprinter Swift in the bunch sprint in the flat third stage of the race while Kennaugh defends lead ahead of the final time trial

Photo: Sirotti








29.03.2014 @ 18:04 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Elia Viviani (Cannondale) took his first win of the season when he broke the Team Sky dominance of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. In the only stage for the pure sprinters, the Italian beat the winner of the opening half-stage Ben Swift (Sky) and Rino Gasparrini (MG Kvis) in a bunch sprint while Peter Kennaugh (Sky) comfortable defended his overall lead on the eve of the final time trial.


Until now, Team Sky have appeared to be unbeatable at the Settimana Internazional Coppi e Bartali as the Brits have taken three stage wins on the opening two days of the race but today their dominance were broken. Elia Viviani lived up to his status as favourite when he held off the British team's sprinter Ben Swift in the bunch sprint on the third stage of the race.


After having been dropped on the tricky first half-stage, Viviani only had one chance to go for glory in the Italian race and it came in today's entirely flat penultimate stage. He showed his intentions right from the beginning when he asked his Cannondale team to close down a very big 18-rider group that dominated most of the stage.


The team managed to do so on the 10th of 12 laps on the 13.2km circuit that was the scene of the third stage of the race. From there, they kept the pace high all the way to the finish, clearly confident that their fast finisher could pay them back.


Viviani didn't disappoint as held off Swift in the final dash to the line while Rino Gasparrini from the small MG Kvis team took a great result in third. Overall leader Peter Kennaugh safely crossed the line with the main group to defend his overall lead.


Kennaugh takes his 42-second lead over 2nd-placed Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani) into tomorrow's short, hilly 10km final time trial. With a big gap over the biggest specialists, it seems that only disaster can prevent the Brit from taking home the first stage win of his short career


One for the sprinters

After yesterday's queen stage that had produced a major shake-up of the GC, it was back into flatter terrain for today's third stage of the four-day Settimana Internazional Coppi e Bartali. The race consisted of 12 laps of an almost completely flat 13.2km circuit and was expected to offer the pure sprinters their only real chance in the race.


The race took off under beautiful sunshine with two non-starters as Philip Deignan (Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali's brother Antonio (Marchiol) chose not to continue in the race. Despite the easy nature of the stage and a bunch sprint being the expected outcome, there was a lot of early aggression and it took a little while for the break to be established.


A very big group

At the end of the first lap, the elastic had snapped and surprisingly the sprint teams had allowed an enormous group to take off. Donato De Ieso (Bardiani - Csf), Gianfranco Zilioli (Androni - Venezuela), Kirill Pozdnyakov (Rusvelo), Ferekalsi Debesay (Mtn - Qhubeka), Christopher Williams (Team Novo Nordisk), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlandeeren), Pierpaolo De Negri (Vini Fantini - Nippo), Ondrej Vendolsky (Dukla Praha), Enea Cambianca, Enrico Franzoi (Marchiol Emisfero), Kanstantsin Klimiankou (Amore & Vita - Selle Smp), Mirko Tedeschi, Alessandro Pettiti, Matteo Collodel (Team Idea), Gianluca Mengardo (Area Zero Pro Team), Gennaro Maddaluno (Utensilnord), Luca Chirico and Riccardo Donato (Mg Kvis - Trevigiani) made up an 18-rider group that crossed the line with a 50-second advantage.


With Mattia Gavazzi on the roster, Christina Watches had one of the day's favourites and so they knew that they could not allow such a big group to get too much leeway. The Danish team hit the front and kept the gap stable at around one minute for the first three laps.


Cannondale lend a hand

The yellow-clad team started to lose a bit of ground and by the time they had completed the fifth lap, the advantage was 1.32. For the next few laps, the gap remained stable at around that mark as Cannondale now also hit the front to set up Elia Viviani for the win.


U23 world champion Matej Mohoric did a lot of work for the Italian team and at the end of the 8th lap, the gap had come down to 50 seconds. At the next passage, it was only 30 seconds and during the next lap, they closed the final bit down.


A split in the peloton

Things were back together by the time, the peloton started the penultimate lap. The pace was kept high to avoid any late attacks and this split the peloton into two bigger groups.


The second one was quickly 20 seconds behind and at the passage of the line, they were more than a minute behind the 94-rider front group.


Sky take control

All was now set for a big bunch sprint and as they neared the finish, Team Sky took control for Swift. Lampre-Merida and YellowFluo also moved to the top positions but it was Sky that kept control when they passed the flamme rouge.


Despite their hard work, the British team were unable to keep their string going as Swift had to be content with 2nd. Instead, it was Viviani who took his first win of the season but Sky could be consoled with the fact that Kennaugh defended his lead.



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