Tirreno-Adriatico: Stage 3

Mathieu van der Poel achieved his goal of a stage win, in this years Tirreno-Adriatico with victory on stage 3. In Gualdo Tadino, the Dutch champion beat race leader Wout van Aert and Davide Ballerini on the uphill finish.

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Tirreno-Adriatico: Stage 3

Mathieu van der Poel achieved his goal of a stage win, in this years Tirreno-Adriatico with victory on stage 3. In Gualdo Tadino, the Dutch champion beat Wout van Aert and Davide Ballerini on the uphill finish.

Photo: @TirrenAdriatico (twitter)

On the third day of Tirreno-Adriatico, the peloton headed from the Tuscan village of Monticiano to Gualdo Tadino in Umbria, the longest stage at 219 kilometres.

Niki Terpstra was in the early breakaway with Davide Bais, Tobias Ludvigsson and Guillaume Boivin and a little later Mark Padun. Ludvigsson and Padun were the best placed riders at the front, respectively in 73rd and 85th place, 9:22 minutes behind leader Wout van Aert.

During the undulating opening phase of the race, the breakaway’s lead quickly increased to more than eight minutes after 70 kilometres. Behind it, Van Aert’s teammates set the pace in the peloton. After 105 kilometres, the peloton suddenly started to react to the breakaway’s big lead. The team of Arkéa Samsic increased the pace and this caused the large peloton to be stretched.

Moments later, Mathieu van der Poel rattled the tree, reducing the gap with the leading group to six minutes. During the agression out on the road to bring the breakaway back, Tirreno-Adriatico said goodbye to Caleb Ewan. The Australian, second on the opening stage and carrier of the maglia ciclamino, had fallen behind and then got into the team car.

Photo: @TirrenAdriatico (twitter)

In the run-up to the only climb, the Poggio della Croce, the leading group lost more ground. Robert Gesink (Jumbo Visma) put in a lot of effort on the climb and brought the peloton to within 3:28 of the breakaway. Jumbo-Visma, however, did not want to do all the dirty work on its own, so the breakaway’s lead quickly ran back out to six minutes.

According to Chapatte’s law, which states that a peloton takes a minute out of a breakaway every ten kilometers, the large group still had a chance of catching them but the five at the front had a nice margin.

Alpecin-Fenix ​​and Deceuninck-Quick-Step then took up the chase and the gap was soon tumbling. Six minutes became five, four, three, two and one, twenty kilometers from the finish. Once the five escapees were within range, the difference remained stable between thirty seconds and the minute. With three kilometres to go, the last gap was closed by the teams of the strong men and the run-up to the final sprint could really begin.

Photo: @TirrenAdriatico (twitter)

The “big three” Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe were all close to each other, not for the first time this week. Zdenek Stybar emerged at the head of the peloton, with Julian Alaphilippe on his wheel, who was working for Davide Ballerini. The World Champion slowed down on purpose with 800 meters to go, allowing the former Czech national champion to pull clear and put 30 meters between him and the group. That prompted a move from other riders such as race leader Wout Van Aert who closed the gap with Van der Poel on his wheel, reeling him in inside the last 500 meters.

The Dutchman then waited for the right moment to take the victory. In 1984, Mathieu’s father Adrie also won a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico, arriving in Ancona.

Mathieu van der Poel: On today’s stage, the Dutch champion wanted to take revenge after he was not well positioned in the final sprint yesterday. “I was really happy when I crossed the line,” said Van der Poel after his victory. “After my mistake yesterday, I was a bit frustrated. Today I wanted to rectify that. I was very happy to be able to win, especially after the team had worked great to close the gap to the leading group.”

On the ascending finish, Zdeněk Štybar opened the sprint after which Julian Alaphilippe let a gap open to his teammate. Wout van Aert had to chase and took the Dutch champion with him on his wheel. It was important that Wout responded immediately. Otherwise it could have become dangerous. I think I made the right decision by following. It was a very tough sprint, it went up a bit. After such a long stage, it hurt.”

Van der Poel said in advance that he was coming to Tirreno-Adriatico to win a stage. Has he now achieved his goal with this? “I really wanted to win a stage and that’s why I was so frustrated yesterday after making a mistake. So I am extra happy that I took the victory today. I hope that I can now maintain this form until the Belgian classics ”, he said in conclusion.

Wout van Aert: “It took a lot of strength to get Stybar back. I was a bit surprised by the attack. It was a bad race situation to sprint for the win with Mathieu in my wheel. I had the feeling there was more to it if I hadn’t had to put in a maximum effort sooner. Looking back on today, a second place and again extra bonification seconds is a good result. I think the people at home are the big winners. They have been treated to a high level race between the absolute world-class riders over the past few days.”

An important test awaits Van Aert tomorrow with an eye on the general classification. The Belgian rider is eager. “It will be a tough task to defend the leader’s jersey. The tactics will be very simple. I’m going to try to hang on to it for as long as possible and if I get dropped, I’ll fight for every second. After tomorrow, we will know more about the possibilities for a good position in the GC. It would be beyond all expectations if I can keep the jersey, but I am ready to fight for it. Tomorrow night we will assess our possibilities and see what else is possible.”

Greg van Avermaet (AG2R): “It was a tough day. It was nervous all day and we had to drive fast ”, said Van Avermaet after the finish. “The team brought me well in the final. I still had to make a little effort myself to start the last kilometer well. It was important to be in the right place. ”

On the ascending finish, Julian Alaphilippe dropped a gap for his teammate Zdeněk Štybar, forcing the others to chase. “That was a bit unfortunate, because I lost a few places to start my sprint. All in all, I am satisfied with my fifth place. Surely the condition is on the way. ”

Christophe Laporte (Cofidis): “It was a fast and quite difficult day,” said Laporte. “At the foot of the final climb I was able to keep myself in position. I was in Roglič’s wheel, but I didn’t pass. Fortunately, Guillaume attacked because the pace dropped a bit and others started from behind. I hoped Roglič would weaken a bit after his effort, but he was stronger.  Of course I believed in it today”, the French sprinter continued. “But now that I’m second after Roglič, I can’t blame myself.”

Davide Ballerini (Quickstep) “It was an intense final and I was in Julian’s wheel when he left a hole that allowed Styby to take his chance,” said Ballerini. “Unfortunately the others were on their toes and caught up with him, so we again focused on the sprint. Just as we came out of the last corner, we were held up slightly by another rider and we had to slow down. Nevertheless, I was able to take a podium place, which is a good result given the circumstances.  We still have four stages to go and still want to achieve good results”, Ballerini said afterwards.

Tadeji Pogačar (UAE): “I am happy to be able to start tomorrow wearing the white. It will be tough stage I think. I’ll be looking for a good result: 20 seconds separate me from the top of the standings, we will see in Prati di Tivo if it is a small or substantial margin. I’m feeling good but today was a hard long day in cold temperatures so the focus now is on recovery ”.



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