Tim Wellens (Lotto Fix All) channelled his Ardennes Classics skills to win stage 3’s steep uphill finish in Caltagirone at the Giro d’Italia. The double-digit gradient and attacks caused Chris Froome (Team Sky) to lose precious seconds to his overall rivals in the final kilometre.
Wellens timed his final effort to the line perfectly to hold off Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac), with Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) finishing third after opening up the sprint.
Everyone else fought to hold their wheels and avoid splits in the select front group. Maglia rosa Rohan Dennis (BMC) finished in the wheels and was timed at four seconds behind Wellens, in the same time as Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and most of his other overall rivals.
Dennis kept the pink jersey for another day and leads Dumoulin by one second, with Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) moving up to third overall at 17 seconds. Wellens is now fourth overall at 19 seconds.
Froome finished much further back, and with a gap in the line of riders timed at greater than a second, he was classified as finishing 21 seconds down on Wellens. He tried to dismiss the time loss as ‘racing’ but after also losing 37 seconds in the opening Jerusalem time trial, which Dumoulin won; he now sits 55 seconds behind maglia rosa Dennis in the overall classification and 54 seconds behind Dumoulin.
The 202km stage from Catania included over 3,000 metres of climbing on twisting narrow country roads, making for a nervous five hours in the saddle but inspiring Wellens and his Lotto Fix All team, which lead him to the foot of the 13 per cent kick up to the finish.
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