Stage 3: Reggio Emilia - Rapallo 178km

By Cyclingnews.com

Monday, May 9, 2011 4.43pm

Weylandt's death casts pall over result

Angel Vicioso (Androni Giocatolli) took his first Grand Tour stage win in a day overshadowed by the tragic death of Leopard Trek's Wouter Weylandt. David Millar (Garmin Cervelo) was second on the stage, with Movistar's Pablo Lastras third. Millar moves into the race lead.

Weylandt crashed on the descent of the day's first climb, the Passo del Bocco. The exact circumstances were unknown, but the television cameras caught him on the ground unconscious. Medical assistance was immediately on the scene, and he was given defibrillation and heart massage, with work continuing on the scene for about 20 minutes before he was airlifted out. His death was announced after the stage ended.

The peloton was not informed of the seriousness of the crash until after the stage was completed. The podium ceremonies were cancelled out of respect for the 26-year-old-Belgian.

A long breakaway on a rolling stage

On a rolling course, with two ranked climbs and a tricky finish featuring ramps and some tight turns, the 173km from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo offered up the category 3 Passo del Bocco at km 133.3, and the category 4 Madonna delle Grazie at km. 164.

The stage got off to a fast start and after a few failed attempts, a group formed and got away. Bart De Clerq (Quick Step), Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago-CSF Inox), Pavel Brutt (Katusha) and Davide Ricci Bitti (Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli) made their break only 32km into the day. The gap topped out at nearly six minutes before starting to fall at about the 60km marker.

Mark Cavendish had to stop for saddle repairs, eventually getting a new bike, and then camly made his way back up through the team cars and back to the peloton.

Lampre, HTC and Saxo Bank-SunGard shared the duties on the front of the bunch, keeping the break group on a short leash. Cavendish soon dropped back again, apparently to pick up his repaired original bike, but this time he had several teammates to help bring him back up to the front.

A crash with about 60km to go took down among others, Fabio Duarte (Geox). He limped his way back to the bunch, and continued on his way, but with difficulty.

Lampre moved to the head of the field as the climb started, hoping to drop Cavendish and the other sprinters, while keeping stage two winner Alessandro Petacchi protected near the front.

Brambilla sprinted for the mountain points, closely followed by Brutt. The Italian took the climb, giving himself the mountain jersey. But the field was only one minute back, led by Liquigas. Ricci Bitti was dropped along the way, but caught up again with some 21km to go and the gap under one minute.

Descent marked by Wouter's crash

The foursome hung doggedly to their lead, but Lampre rolled the field past them with 12km to go. A new group formed on the climb at 10 km, as rumours raced concerning Weylandt. The group was unable to stay away, though, but behind them, the first riders were dropped, including Cavendish. Another sprinter was eliminated from the finale as Tyler Farrar (Garmin Cervelo) flatted.

LeMevel and Lastras broke out to take the points at the day's second climb, and were joined by Daniele Moreno (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Angel Vicioso (Androni) on the descent. David Millar (Cervelo) shot his way up to them with 2km left.

The five riders looked nervously back as they passed under the flamme rouge, but they were clear. Millar opened the sprint but Vicioso took it easily, with no one else coming close. Rabobank's Bram Tankink led the field over the line 21 seconds later.

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com

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