Bennati Wins Stage 3 of Giro
Daniele Bennati (Lampre) has won Stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia. Bennati took a bunch sprint to win the crash-marred 222-km run from Catania to Milazzo in 5:37:01. Erik Zabel (Milram) finished second, and Danilo Hondo (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) finished third. Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) remains the maglia rosa.
For most of the stage's first 100 km, the riders rolled along the slopes of Europe's most active volcano, Mount Etna. The volcano was dormant, and so were the riders until Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux) attacked at 60 km. Riccardo Chiarini (LPR Brakes), Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis), Kevin Seeldrayers (Silence), Matej Jurco (Milram), and Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) joined Roy, and the break of the day had formed. The escapees forged a four-minute lead, but Liquigas went to the front and pegged the lead at three minutes.
With 65 km remaining, the first of two crashes occurred. Stage 2 winner Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval), Mark Cavendish and Andrei Greipel (both from High Road), Ivan Velasco (Euskaltel), and Pat McCarty and David Millar (both from Slipstream) hit the deck. Ricco suffered a dislocated finger, but he and the other crash victims rejoined the peloton within a few km.
After the crash victims rejoined the peloton, the sprinters' teams went to the front. With 20 km left, the bunch reeled in the break. Shortly after the catch, Vassily Kiriyenka (Tinkoff) crashed on a left-hand turn. His bike sailed into the peloton, and several riders, including Magnus Backstedt (Slipstream) and Brad McGee and Stuart O'Grady (both from CSC) wound up on the ground. The two CSC men abandoned with broken clavicles.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) attacked, but the bunch, which LPR Brakes led, rode him down. With five km to go, Jurgen van den Broeck (Silence) attacked, but he was caught quickly.
Milram led the field into the last km. Zabel was Milram's man, but Bennati had his wheel. The Italian jumped the German, who had no answer.
In the overall, Pellizotti leads Christian Vande Velde (Slipstream) by 0:01 and Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) by 0:07. Stage 4 will probably not change this state of affairs. The 183-km run from Pizzo Calabro to Catanzaro-Lungomare will feature the Category 3 Passo di Pietra Spada at 64 km and an unrated climb at 164 km that some riders might use to launch an escape. Will they succeed? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!