Australia's Matt Goss sprinted to victory in the third stage of the Giro d'Italia on Monday as British rival Mark Cavendish fell victim to the dubious racing antics of Italian Roberto Ferrari. Cavendish and overall race leader Taylor Phinney were among the riders caught up in a spill around 150 meters from the finish, caused by Ferrari veering wildly to his right and cutting across the Isle of Man sprinter's path.
World champion Cavendish eventually managed to get up and walk over the line carrying his bike but with his jersey badly torn, while Phinney finished last but still holds the race lead. Ferrari was later punished by race officials, who relegated him to 192nd place in the stage, but later proclaimed his innocence.
"I was in fourth position when (Tyler) Farrar began his sprint. All I did was try and find a way through to open up my own sprint," said the 21-year-old, who rides for the Androni team. "I didn't know who was behind me. In a sprint, I look straight ahead. I don't preoccupy myself with what's going on behind me."
Team Sky sports director Steven De Jongh said Cavendish "lost a lot of skin but was able to pick himself up and complete the stage".
Phinney, who won the opening stage time-trial to claim the race lead, stayed down for a long time and seemed to have an ankle problem but eventually crossed the line in 198th and last place. Thanks to race rules, which deem that a rider who goes down in a group crash in the final three kilometers is given the same time as the peloton, he will achieve another dream of wearing the pink jersey into Wednesday's team time-trial in Verona.
Tuesday is a rest on the three-week race, allowing the teams and riders to make the trip to Italy for the remaining 18 stages. Phinney admitted he had been worried and said he welcomed the rest day.
"I feel better than I thought I would. Straight after the fall I was worried because my foot hurt," said the American. "At first I was worried but in the ambulance they put ice on my right ankle and it got better, so much so that I managed to make it to the presentation. "I'm calm, the danger is over, and thankfully tomorrow is a rest day."
Britain's Geraint Thomas (Sky) is second overall, nine seconds back, with Dane Alex Rasmussen third at 13sec.
The day started with a six-man breakaway but they were never allowed more than a three-and-a-half minute lead, with the peloton gradually reeling them in. Danish rider Mads Christensen left his fellow escapees and made a lone break for home 32km out but he was caught by the peloton just eight kilometers later.
Another local rider, Lars Bak, had a go 18km out but he never gained more than a few seconds on the peloton and was swallowed up 11km from the end. Thereafter the sprinters' and favourites' teams controlled the pace, keeping the pace high and helping their team leaders towards the front to try to avoid any problems.
1. Matt Goss (AUS) Orica-GreenEdge 4hr 20min 53sec, 2. Juan Jose Haedo (ARG/SAX) same time, 3. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) s.t., 4. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 5. Mark Renshaw (AUS/RAB) s.t., 6. Thor Hushovd (NOR/BMC) s.t., 7. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/KAT) s.t., 8. Romain Feillu (FRA/VAC) s.t., 9. Fumiyuki Beppu (JPN/GEC) s.t., 10. Alex Rasmussen (DEN/GRM) s.t., 11 Geoffrey Soupe (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 12. Jack Bauer (NZL/GRM) s.t., 13. Daniel Schorn (AUT/APP) s.t., 14. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/RSH) s.t., 15. Manuel Belletti (ITA/COG) s.t.
16. Robert Hunter (RSA/GRM) s.t.
1. Taylor Phinney (USA/BMC) 9hr 24min 31sec, 2. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) at 9sec, 3. Alex Rasmussen (DEN/GRM) 13, 4. Manuele Boro (ITA/SAX) 15, 5. Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU/GRM) 18, 6. Gustav Larsson (SWE/VAC) 22, 7. Brett Lancaster (AUS/GEC) 23, 8. Matthew Goss (AUS/GEC) s.t., 9. Marco Pinotti (ITA/BMC) 24, 10. Jesse Sergent (NZL/RSH) 26, 11. Nelson Oliveira (POR/RSH) 27, 12. Tomas Vaitkus (LTU/GEC) s.t., 13. Mark Cavendish (IDM/SKY) s.t., 14. Stef Clement (NED/RAB) 28, 15. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) s.t.
16. Robert Hunter (RSA/GRM) s.t., 17. Jack Bauer (NZL/GRM) s.t.