Despite a slightly demanding profile, the sprinters once again managed to fight for the win on Wednesday, in stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico. After 225 kilometres, Phil Bauhaus took the win in Gualdo Tadino, where the general classification experienced some changes. Romain Grégoire indeed moved up to sixth place, but still is twenty-two seconds behind the leader Juan Ayuso.

A “marathon” stage loomed on the third day of racing in Tirreno-Adriatico. Between Volterra and Gualdo Tadino, no less than 225 kilometers made up the riders’ route, for a potential reduced bunch sprint. The question was whether the breakaway could have a chance. The answer came after just two kilometres. Jan Stöckli (Corratec-Vini Fantini) and Samuele Zoccarato (VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizenè) got away, and no one followed them. “The peloton had decided not to fight at the start, and we adapted to this scenario,” explained Yvon Caër. A two-man break therefore engaged in a vain attempt and a very long day. The peloton even let them take a twelve-minute lead before starting the chase. The sprinters’ teams took control shortly after halfway, while Stöckli let Zoccarato continue alone. The Italian rider kept on going for another hour, before he was caught 22 kilometres from the finish, just before the Casacastalda climb (7km at 3.2%).

“We had to be careful in the final”, Yvon Caër

Some teams tried to take advantage of these slopes to reduce the bunch, without too much success though. “The pace in the climb was good, but not tremendous,” said Yvon. “Then, with the wet roads, we had to be careful in the final. We tried to make sure that Romain was in a good position, but they struggled to find each other at the end.” A slight uphill with two kilometres to go stretched the peloton out, but the sprinters were still able to battle, despite a crash in the last corner. Phil Bauhaus took victory while all the Groupama-FDJ riders made it safely to the line. Romain Grégoire even gained three places overall to move to sixth. “It’s an uneventful day and we will now get to hillier stages,” concluded Yvon. “Tomorrow it could again be quite calm. There is a long climb, but early, then the final isn’t very hard. We will remain attentive if a good break goes, but we are above all waiting for the hard weekend.”

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