Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie) won stage 3 of the Coppi e Bartali, sprinting to victory from a small lead group of 19 riders. Alan Banaszek (CCC Sprandi) was 2nd in the sprint and William Clarke (Cannondale) placed 3rd while Tom Skujins (Cannondale) held on to the overall lead.
On paper it seemed like a straight forward 189km sprinters stage today. 10 finishing laps of a flat 13km circuit was not supposed to present too many challenges to the peloton today, but the wind and Team Direct Energie had other ideas. With around 60km to go, the French team put the race in the gutter and almost immediately a big crash occurred at the head of the race.
23 riders were able to make it through the crash, our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders were the first to be caught behind the carnage. Immediately our African Team started the chase, realising the danger of this situation. Direct Energie and Cannondale pushed on up front and the gap hovered around 30″ for what seemed forever. With a little help from Team Sky, we were hopeful of regaining contact to the front group but the gap never changed.
With 5km to go, and the gap was still stuck at half a minute, and we knew it was all over. The lead group was able to sprint for the win and we were left disappointed, having to cross the line without being able to contest for the victory on a day which we had targeted with Ryan Gibbons.
Jaco Venter – Rider
It was a very hard day today. We weren’t expecting the guys to go so early, it was around 60km to go when they went. We weren’t that far back, maybe around 30th position but it was still behind the crash. We were maybe 5 spots too far behind and we missed the split. The whole team then committed to come back but unfortunately we didn’t get much help from other teams so we couldn’t close it. All together, we did all we could and thinking back, I don’t think we could have done much different except for being those 5 spots further in front. It was hard day.
Oli Cookson – Sport Director
We knew we had to be up there at that particular point of the race today. We weren’t that badly placed but when Direct Energie started to split it, even they crashed. So we were all caught out and literally just missed the move. We started riding straightaway and rode ourselves into the ground. We are all very disappointed, it was a big missed opportunity for us and I don’t think we will sleep easy tonight.