Giro d'Italia 3: Goss wins crash-marred sprint in Horsens

Phinney, Cavendish fall heavily in finale

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Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) won a crash-marred stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia ahead of Juan Jose Heado (Saxo Bank) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda). The Australian was ahead of a major spill that took down stage 2 winner Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) and maglia rosa Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing).

The Orica-GreenEdge team were the most dominant and well-disciplined squad in the final kilometres of the race, only surging to the front inside the final two kilometres, to deliver Goss to his first win of the season and Orica's first Grand Tour stage win."I guess it was a bit of really fast sprint," a delighted Goss said at the finish. "We went uphill with about a kilometre to go, and then it was downhill and very fast to the finish. I had two guys who delivered me to the last 300 metres, but I think there was a bit of carnage behind.

"It's my second Giro stage win. It's great to win here in a pure bunch sprint. I'm very happy for the team. There were a lot corners in the finale, that always strings the bunch out but I had a great team."

Goss's improvement from second place in stage two was a sharp contrast to Cavendish, who after picking up yesterday's win was left to scrape himself off the tarmac today. In truth the world champion's problems started long before the final challenge for the line.

At this stage in the race so many teams and riders are nervous – all competing for the thin strips or road, the tiniest gaps between wheels, and all fresh enough to think they can win. The likes of Sky, GreenEdge and Garmin Barracuda have honed their leadout trains but a number of riders are fresh enough to immerse themselves in the sprints. With two kilometres remaining Cavendish found himself isolated from his leadout. Peter Kennaugh led the bunch before swinging off for Geraint Thomas. However the Welshman, seeing that Cavendish was further back, sat up.

By now GreenEdge were in full control, as Goss's rivals fought tooth and nail to secure the Australian's rear wheel. Cavendish at first positioned himself behind former teammate Mark Renshaw but as the line approached he looked to move forward. He was too far back to rival Goss and needed to launch his move earlier than usual but as he began to wind up his speed Robert Ferrari moved from his line, swiping Cavendish's front wheel from under him.

With Goss ahead by a clear set of wheels, Haedo and Farrar were sprinting for the minor places, while Cavendish and Phinney sat up and observed their injuries. Cavendish was on his feet soon enough but the maglia rosa stayed down longer. After a brief spell in an ambulance, Phinney emerged and made his way to the podium to accept his third pink jersey. "I’m better now," Phinney said. "When I was on the ground I was a bit confused and in a state of shock, but I started to feel better when I was in the ambulance.

"I must have hit something when I fell. It’s a pity that it happened and hopefully it’s nothing important. It’s lucky tomorrow is a rest day."

Wouter gone but not forgotten

Wouter Weylandt's death in last year's Giro d'Italia is still a memory that touches all who hold cycling dear but on the start line in Horsens the Belgian was honoured by his former colleagues and the organisers of the Giro. Weylandt crashed and died during stage 3 of last year's race and it was his former teammates from Leopard-Trek (now RadioShack-Nissan) as well was his friend Tyler Farrar who led the tributes.

A minute's silence was religiously observed with race organiser Michele Acquarone giving an emotional speech in the presence of Weylandt's family. Respects were also paid to Horsens mayor Jan Trøjborg, who had worked tirelessly to bring the Giro to Denmark, only to pass away yesterday, suffering from a heart attack during a bike ride.

The early action

Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda), Reto Hollenstein (Team NetApp), Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM), Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank) and Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) were able to forge a gap. However the sprinters' teams, along with BMC never allowed the breakaway to gain much more than 3 minutes.

Ramus Navardauskas was just 22 seconds down on Phinney in the GC, and a realistic shout for pink with stage 4 team time trial ahead and as the race headed onto the three laps of a 14.3km finishing circuit, the gap was begging to plummet.

With 36 kilometres remaining the break were just 56 seconds clear. Christensen was keen on giving the home fans some cheer and jumped clear. The remnants of the break duly sat up before the Saxo Bank rider followed suit.

Lars Bak, attacked in a repeat of yesterday's tactic, leading the race on the final lap but with 11 kilometres to race the bunch were back together. The scenario was set for a battle royal with Cavendish, Goss, Renshaw, Farrar, Haedo, and Arnaud Demare all positioning themselves for the sprint.

As the Sky train derailed, Orica-GreenEdge seized control, delivering Goss to his second career Giro stage, but behind, Androni's Roberto Ferrari made a sudden dash to his right, sweeping Cavendish's front wheel and causing a chain-reaction pile-up. The Italian was relegated to last place for irregular sprinting.

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