Caleb Ewan again proved that if he is in a good position before the sprint, he will probably finish first. The Australian overtook Arnaud Demare in the last metres of the pavé straight, winning Tirreno-Adriatico stage 3. It is his 3rd victory of the season and an additional 60 UCI points for Lotto-Soudal, who are fighting to avoid relegation.
Tadej Pogačar and his teammates spiced up things with 27 kilometres to go in this otherwise sleepy stage, when the UAE-Emirates squad paced hard and set up the attack on a shallow hill. Pogačar, his team-mate Marc Soler and Julian Alaphilippe escaped from the peloton. Later, Tao Geoghegan Hart joined them, who dropped Mikel Landa straight off his wheel.
FDJ-Groupama were immediately trying to catch them and pacing for their sprinter Arnaud Demare. The French team were also active yesterday when Marc Soler went solo and was caught. The strong quartet of stars, who were working well together, was caught with 10 km to go as more sprinters’ teams paced for their riders. Even Alaphilippe was pulling, while his team-mate Remco Evenepoel was sitting in the peloton, saving energy before more important days.
After yesteday’s marvelous performance by Olav Kooij, Jumbo-Visma riders were more visible at the front of the peleton in the last kilometres today, helping him with his positioning. Kooij was trying to mark Caleb Ewan, who is clearly the fastest man in this race. Meanwhile, Ewan was sitting on Demare’s wheel, but after the last corner Ackermann sneaked in between them, but the German could not hold his wheel when Demare launched the sprint. Ackermann looked terrible as multiple riders passed him.
The finishing straight was not asphalt, but a pavé similar to the Champs-Élysées final in Tour de France. In the slow-motion replay it was easy to see that bikes were bouncing on this surface. Demare launched early with 250 metres to go after Guarnieri had dropped him off. Ewan needed to overtake the slow Ackermann who had blocked his path to Demare’s wheel and in the last metres he flew past Demare, proving that if he is in at least a mediocre position before the sprint, he has an extremely high chance of winning. Kooij today was in a better position than in all of his previous sprints this year and finished third. Quick-Step today again sprinted with Davide Ballerini. He finished 12th, while Mark Cavendish was 27th and once again did not contest the sprint.
Stage 4 will be the first climbing day. The stage will end with the Bellante climb (4.2 km, 5.7%), which riders will ride up three times including for the finish. Considering how aggressive Pogačar and Soler have been so far this season and in Tirreno, it would not be a surprise if the UAE-Emirates will attack early to force other teams to chase. If it comes down to an uphill sprint, the favourite should be Alaphilippe. He will try to challenge the unstoppable Pogačar, who so far has been perfect in 2022.