April 19, 2018
Pinot climbs into top spot as race lead changes for the third straight day
Dimension Data's Ben O'Connor took the solo win in Merano to claim his most significant win to date. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain) took the runner-up spots to move into the top two on GC.
As the race approached its climax the presence of 22 year old Australian O'Connor would have puzzled those in the lead group. A complete unknown with just one race win to his credit, a stage at the Tour of Austria, O'Connor joined Pinot and Pozzovivo's attack with a full 50km to go as they tried to pull back four escappees Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Manuel Senni (Bardiani-CSF) and Stephan Rabitsch (Felbermayr-Simplon).
The reeling in took more than 40km after a hard fought chase by Team Sky's Chris Froome saw a group of ten at the head. O'Connor took advantage of hestitation amongst the leaders to launch his attack. His advantage stuck giving him a five second cushion on the line.
O'Connor explained what the stage win meant, “Our Dimension Data team came to the Tour of the Alps with a stage win as goal, and I am happy we have achieved it. After yesterday’s display, today I was focused on not missing a single opportunity for another good result, so I went on the wake of Pinot on the Passo Palade/Gampenpass. I like long climbs, today was a stage suited to me: last year I had been training in Val Gardena/Grödental, and it was an awesome experience. Clearly, I have a special feeling with Südtirol.”
Overnight leader Ivan Ramiro Sosa(Androni-Sidermec) who crashed crash on descent losing four minutes. Meanwhile, Pinot, who held the race lead or a short while in 2017, was pleased to be back in Fushia, “Last year I lost the jersey and the race to Geraint Thomas for a matter of four seconds – recalled Thibaut – this time I have managed to have it back, and I don’t want to leave it anymore. Our attack was not planned today, but when I saw other strong guys like Fabio Aru trying to move, I went on as well. This is my racing style, and I believe races like the Tour of the Alps, with short and tough stages, are the best possible way to propose a great show like today’s.”
Froome retained his fourth spot on GC, "It was a short but intense stage today, and it was a very tactical race, " said Froome. Astana was in numerical superiority, so for me, it was obviously logical to stay with them and work together in the last climb to neutralize the attacks that occurred earlier. At the top of the last climb, it was just necessary to get back on the lead of the race and take this group with Pinot and Pozzovivo who had caught the breakaway. I enjoyed the final descent, it was not dangerous but it was fast, so very fun. I also knew that I had to take advantage of this descent to close the gap with the leading group because I suspected that once on the flat, it would have been difficult to ensure that people unite in the pursuit. So I took the responsibility for the descent and I did everything to fill the gap. "
Video Highlights of Stage 3 (Copyright Tour of the Alps)
Race Results - Stage 3 and GC