Rohan Dennis survived a long and chaotic stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia to secure the Maglia Rosa for another day and carry the pink jersey onto Italian soil.
Dennis’ BMC Racing Team teammates took control of the race as soon as the flag dropped on the 229km stage from Be’er Sheva to Eilat, allowing three riders to go clear and assuming their position at the front of the bunch.
After letting the leading trio gain an advantage of more than seven minutes, Loïc Vliegen and Kilian Frankiny led the train and set a strong pace at the front which saw the breakaway’s lead quickly decrease.
Vliegen and Frankiny’s work saw the gap go down to 3’30” but with more than 100km still remaining, BMC Racing Team eased up on the chase and the gap came back to a manageable five minutes.
With an expected sprint in Eilat and strong winds forecast, the sprinters’ teams came to the front to assist Dennis’ teammates in the chase and with 60km remaining, the breakaway was less than one minute ahead of the bunch.
Dennis was well protected by his teammates going into the nervous finale, especially when the strong winds picked up in the final 20km, and as the catch was made with 6km to go, Dennis battled to stay safe as the sprint trains formed.
In a repeat of stage 2, Elia Viviani (Quickstep-Floors) took the win, while Dennis crossed the line towards the front of the bunch to secure the leader’s jersey for another day, the first time in his career that he has held a Grand Tour leader’s jersey for more than one stage.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It was very stressful today but I’m glad it’s done. It was a hard day., it was long, and we were somewhat lucky that it was a tailwind. The wind was very strong. The last 40 or 50km, when we were chasing the breakaway and especially the last 20km, we were sitting on 70km an hour so we couldn’t go any faster. It was super fast and we were lucky that it wasn’t a crosswind. Once again, the team did a great job and kept me up the front.”
“I was hoping for a stage victory on stage 1 but I would love to get a stage victory at some stage during this Giro d’Italia. It would be amazing to top off this Grand Tour. The time trial in Trento is a given but if I get an opportunity with the climbers, then I’m probably one of the quicker guys in the bunch. I’m never going to beat guys like Viviani but I think if the main sprinters aren’t there then I have a chance.”
“Tomorrow, I will rest as much as possible and go for a ride. The plan for the Italian stages will be to hold the jersey for as long as possible and then the battle after that will be getting to Rome.”