Paolini defies brave Downing

Quick Step's Luca Paolini wins the third stage of the Tour of Britain in Sheffield, where British ch

Quick Step's Luca Paolini wins the third stage of the Tour of Britain in Sheffield, where British ch

Quick Step's hold on the Tour of Britain tightened when Luca Paolini won the third stage into Sheffield, seeing off T-Mobile's Bram Schmitz and the other members of a stage-long breakaway group with a typically rapid burst of speed applied 500 metres from home. Sheffield-born British champion Russell Downing took a brave third place, having been dropped on the last climb, then rejoining the leaders on the descent down into the steel city.

Welsh team manager Julian Winn capped another good day for the home riders by leading the race over the toughest stage's four categorised climbs to take the lead in the King of the Mountains contest.

There seemed little chance of the 13-rider break that went clear soon after the start in Leeds being allowed much leeway as highly-placed T-Mobile rider Eric Baumann was with them. But once the German dropped back the group were allowed to build what became a winning lead over the peloton.

British champion Downing had told procycling before the start that he didn't fancy his chances of making an impact despite the race following some of his training routes. The Recycling.co.uk rider has been troubled by a knee problem, but admitted that he would like to give his home crowd something to shout about. "If it had been a normal stage, I wouldn't have been able to do it but because it was Sheffield and there were that many people on the road cheering, I wanted it badly," he said after the stage.

Although a small gaggle of riders were dropped on the first-cat climbs of Holme Moss and the Snake Pass, including Downing's brother and team-mate Dean, most managed to get back on by the final descent down into Sheffield. However, Ireland's Roger Aiken was later disqualified and his team manager thrown out of the race for holding on to the team car.

There was no change to the lead as Nick Nuyens tracked his closest rivals, Michael Blaudzun and Javier Cherro into the finish. But the hopes of Nuyens' team-mate Michael Rogers took a knock when he lost some valuable seconds.

Stage 3, Leeds-Sheffield

1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 167.5km in 4.27.24 (37.58kph)
2 Bram Schmitz (Hol) T-Mobile
3 Russell Downing (GB) Recycling.co.uk 0.02
4 Tony Bracke (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
5 Ryan Cox (SA) Barloworld
6 Julian Winn (GB) Wales
7 Jos Luis Martinez (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 0.08
8 Dean Downing (GB) Recycling.co.uk 0.10
9 Wesley van der Linden (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 0.11
10 Geraint Thomas (GB) Great Britain 1.05
11 Javier Cherro (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 3.39
12 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step
13 Ben Day (Aus) MrBookmaker.com
14 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC
15 Michael Blaudzun (Den) CSC

Overall

1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 12.54.21
2 Michael Blaudzun (Den) CSC 0.07
3 Javier Cherro (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 0.10
4 Bert de Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0.16
5 Phil Zajicek (USA) Navigators 0.19
6 Ben Day (Aus) MrBookmaker.com
7 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 0.22
8 Yanto Barker (GB) DFL 1.03
9 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 1.04
10 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker.com 1.05

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