Australia’s Matt Goss sprinted to victory in the third stage of the Giro d’Italia on Monday as British rival Mark Cavendish fell victim to the dubious racing antics of Italian Roberto Ferrari.
After handing Orica-GreenEdge their maiden Grand Tour win, Goss was understandably ecstatic.
“I’m really happy to have won. I was second behind Cavendish on Sunday and so really wanted this stage win,” Goss said. “It’s an important win for me and for the team because it’s our first in a grand tour. I want to dedicate it to my teammates because they did an amazing job leading me out so that I could win.”
Cavendish and overall race leader Taylor Phinney were among the riders caught up in a spill about 150m from the finish, caused by Ferrari veering wildly to his right and cutting across the Isle of Man sprinter’s path.
World champion Cavendish eventually managed to get up and walk over the line carrying his bike, but with his jersey badly torn, while Phinney finished last, but still holds the race lead.
Ferrari was later punished by race officials, who relegated him to 192nd place in the stage, but Ferrari later proclaimed his innocence.
“I was in fourth position when [Tyler] Farrar began his sprint. All I did was try and find a way through to open up my own sprint,” said the 21-year-old, who rides for the Androni team. “I didn’t know who was behind me. In a sprint, I look straight ahead. I don’t preoccupy myself with what’s going on behind me.”
Juan Jose Haedo took second place in the sprint, ahead of Farrar.
Team Sky director Steven de Jongh said Cavendish “lost a lot of skin, but was able to pick himself up and complete the stage.”
Phinney, who won the opening-stage time trial to claim the race lead, stayed down for a long time and seemed to have an ankle problem, but eventually crossed the line in 198th and last place.
Thanks to race rules, which deem that a rider who goes down in a group crash in the final 3km is given the same time as the peloton, he will achieve another dream of wearing the pink jersey into today’s team time trial in Verona, Italy.
Yesterday was a rest day on the three-week race, allowing the teams and riders to make the trip to Italy for the remaining 18 stages.
Phinney admitted he had been worried and said he welcomed the rest day.
“I feel better than I thought I would. Straight after the fall I was worried because my foot hurt,” the American said. “At first I was worried, but in the ambulance they put ice on my right ankle and it got better, so much so that I managed to make it to the presentation. I’m calm, the danger is over, and thankfully tomorrow is a rest day.”
Britain’s Geraint Thomas (Sky) is second overall, nine seconds back, with Denmark’s Alex Rasmussen third, 13 seconds back.
The day started with a six-man breakaway, but they were never allowed more than a 3 minute, 30 seconds lead, with the peloton gradually reeling them in.
Danish rider Mads Christensen left his fellow escapees and made a lone break for home 32km out, but he was caught by the peloton just 8km later.
Another local rider, Lars Bak, had a go 18km out, but he never gained more than a few seconds on the peloton and was swallowed up 11km from the end.
Thereafter the sprinters’ and favorites’ teams controlled the pace, keeping the pace high and helping their team leaders toward the front to try to avoid any problems.