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Quick Step's Filippo Pozzato gave Italian national selector Franco Ballerini something to mull on with the World Championships just three weeks away when he won today's third stage of the Tour of Britain into Sheffield. The hugely talented but often underperforming Italian finished well clear of a group he broke away from 15 kilometres from the finish and wet and windy stage through Yorkshire.
This was always going to be the toughest stage of the race, and the conditions added to the difficult profile proved too much for race leader Matthew Goss, who dropped out of contention with a knee injury. The day went better for stage one winner Martin Pedersen, though, who regained the leader's jersey and now heads second-placed Luis Pasamontes by 51 seconds, with the rest of the pack still more than two minutes back with the hardest stages of the race already behind him.
After a long celebration of his victory up to the finish outside Sheffield City Hall, Pozzato said conditions such as those he had ridden in today don't affect him. "I don't think about it when I'm doing well," he said. The 180km stage started in the rain in Bradford and the weather worsened over The Strines, a series of treacherous climbs and steep descents north of Sheffield.
Goss was not the only rider to suffer. World champion Tom Boonen crashed heavily towards the end of the stage and came in 20 minutes down. "I crashed on some oil on the road. Cyclists and oil are a bad combination. I've hurt my leg but I'm OK," said the Belgian.
There was some consolation for Goss, however, as he was confirmed as signing for CSC for the next three seasons. The 19-year-old Tasmanian has won several of the biggest U23 races on the calendar this, including the GP Liberazione, a stage in U26 Giro d'Italia, one in Giro delle Regioni and two stages in the Spanish race Vuelta a Navarra, as well as taking a world title in the team pursuit for Australia back in April.
"In Goss we have one of the sport's greatest talents at the moment," said CSC manager Bjarne Riis. "His results speak for themselves and it will be very exciting to follow his career over the next few years. He's already shown he's able to do well among the pros, and by signing a three-year contract with Team CSC he'll have ample opportunity to progress. He comes highly recommended by Stuart O'Grady, whose opinion I value a lot."
Goss confessed himself to be "very excited to be going to one of the world's top teams. I believe CSC offers me the best opportunity to develop as a professional cyclist and they also support my dream of riding for Australia on the track at the Beijing Olympic Games."
Stage 3, Bradford-Sheffield
1 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 4.28.18
2 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 0.32
3 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step
4 Martin Pedersen (Den) CSC
5 Johan Tschopp (Swi) Phonak
6 Andy Schleck (Lux) CSC 0.39
7 Iljo Keisse (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 1.02
8 Russell Downing (GB) DFL
9 Mirko Allegrini (Ita) Panaria 1.06
10 Kristian House (GB) Recycling.co.uk 1.08
1 Martin Pedersen (Den) Team CSC 12.26.24
2 Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Unibet.com 0.51
3 Pozzato 2.11
4 Rogers 2.46
5 Nuyens 2.47
6 Tschopp 2.55
7 Schleck 3.02
8 Downing 3.21
9 Keisse 3.23
10 Allegrini 3.29
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