FUNES, Italy — The Tour of the Alps queen stage lived up to the pre-race hype with a dramatic one-two punch from Team Sky to claim first and second in Funes, Italy on Wednesday.
Geraint Thomas and teammate Mikel Landa double-teamed 2012 winner Domenico Pozzovivo when the 30-year-old Briton joined Pozzovivo and last year’s winner Landa inside the final kilometre of the brutal 10km climb to the stage 3 finish.
“At the foot of the final climb Landa and I were both feeling good, so we decided he will try to go on the attack, so I could sit up on the wheels a bit and save energy,” explained Thomas. “When [David] Formolo attacked in the final kilometers, I saw the rest of the group was at the limit so I tried to go, even though I didn’t think I would bridge back on Landa and Pozzovivo.
“Instead it happened, and it was when I took a breather after the finish that I realised that I had done it.”
Similar to stage 2, race organisers were forced to shorten the third stage by 7.5km due to excessive snowfall near the Northern Italy start in Villabassa. The race formerly known as Giro del Trentino for the past 40 years, swapped the 2,000-metre Erbe Pass (1,987m) for Terento (1220m) inside the first 45km, but still leaving riders to face the dreaded 12.7km-long Alpe di Rodengo on the back half of the race with gradient spikes of more than 10 percent and averages of around seven.
“Team Sky did a great job today of setting the pace at the foot of the climb,” said Thomas. “We might be just six in the race, but six strong riders, and we also communicate very well together.”
With the win, Thomas lifts the fuchsia leaders jersey from Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who finished 13 seconds back in fifth place after taking it from stage 1 winner Michele Scarponi (Astana) following his second-place finish on Tuesday.
“Today’s win gives me confidence for my Giro ambitions, but of course it’s still unexplored terrain for me, as I still have to take a GC top 10, and I will be competing against big favourites like Nibali and Quintana,” he said. “For me it’s more about keeping up to my plan and focusing on myself at this point.
“The Tour of the Alps provides five great days of racing with long climbs, so I think this is the perfect preparation for the Giro d’Italia.”
Thomas, who downplayed his expectations at the upcoming Giro, told reporters after the race that Sky is committed to keeping the jersey with two days in the mountains remaining, including Thursday’s 165.3km fourth stage from Sudtirol back to Trentino featuring two categorised climbs – Passo della Mendola and the Forcella di Brez.
“We are in the lead now, and we will try to defend the jersey from now to the end of the race,” admitted Thomas, who holds a 16-second lead over Pozzovivo, followed by Pinot (+0:19) and Scarponi (+0:21). “Tomorrow is another hard day, and a lot can still happen until Friday.”
Read the original article on Eurosport: Thomas takes Tour of the Alps queen stage, overall lead