Giro d'Italia 2013: Paolini wins stage three and takes pink jersey


Team Sky's Sir Bradley Wiggins finished eighth in the third stage of the Giro d'Italia to remain second overall while the 222 km stage was won by Italian Luca Paolini, who also took the race leader's pink jersey. Paolini attacked and finished 16 seconds clear of a group including 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, the defending Giro champion. Wiggins is 17 seconds behind Paolini, but 14 ahead of Italian rival Vincenzo Nibali and 17 in front of Hesjedal.

"It's incredible to win like that and take the pink jersey as well," said Paolini. "My father was in hospital today for a minor operation and so this pink jersey is for him. I suffered to stay on during the climb and tried to ride at my pace. I knew there was a little climb near the finish and know I can descend pretty well. I went for it. I rode as if it was a Classic. We had a good team time trial on Sunday and so I knew I could take pink if I won. I did it."

The race had gone as predicted early on with seven riders breaking clear soon after start in Sorrento, establishing a lead of more than seven minutes before the peloton, driven by Team Sky, began to cut their advantage. The breakaway riders were caught on the final short climb of the day and Hesjedal attacked his rivals and opened up a gap of 50m. All of the other riders hoping to win the overall race classification, including Wiggins, Nibali and 2011 Giro champion Michele Scarponi, immediately set off in pursuit and Hesjedal, who finished 25 seconds behind Wiggins in Sunday's team time trial, was caught before the summit. Another attack followed on the descent and Paolini eventually managed to establish a lead.

The Italian opened up an 11-second advantage and he was able to maintain that lead on the tricky descent which featured several hairpin turns and right-angle corners. Scarponi was not that fortunate as he crashed into a wall, broke his bike and lost 44 seconds to his rivals. Paolini, who started the day 19 seconds behind Wiggins, ended it 17 seconds in front of him thanks to the 20-second bonus for the stage winner while Evans picked up a 12-second time bonus for finishing second and third-placed Hesjedal reduced his deficit by eight seconds.

Stage four, a 246km race from Policastro-Serra San Bruno, features a sharp 12km climb in the final 20km, so it should be a day that favours the attackers rather than the sprinters. Here are the odds for a stage victory today at Bet365:

Cadel Evans - 6/1
Mauro Santambrogio - 8/1
Ryder Hesjedal - 8/1
Giovanni Visconti - 12/1
Samuel Sanchez - 13/1

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