Michael Woods beat Rafal Majka in an uphill sprint to become the first Canadian to win a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and take over the blue jersey from Pascal Ackermann, victor of the first two stages, the EF Pro Cycling rider leading Majka by five-seconds on GC.
WOODS FOR THE WIN! Woods takes stage 3 of @TirrenAdriatico today after
brilliant teamwork all day. Chapeau, Mike! 🍾 pic.twitter.com/PWBDsj1Fkx
— EF Pro Cycling (@EFprocycling) September 9, 2020
There were plenty of small and medium climbs on a profile that looked like a barracuda’s lower jaw. The short, steep Poggio Murella ((1.7 km at 10.5 percent) was ascended twice, the last peaking with 8.5-km to go. Another short 3.5 percent ramp led to the finish in Saturnia. The 217-km day was broiling.
🚵♂️This is a very long and wavy stage. The route crosses the district of Grosseto and heads inland in Capalbio. After a first climb up Poggio Murella (with gradients 20%), and after brushing by Saturnia. After a second pass up Poggio Murella, the finish is less than 9 km away. 🚵♀️ pic.twitter.com/9adEIprY39
— Giro d’Italia (@giroditalia) September 9, 2020
A seven-rider breakaway dashed away at the 12-km mark, and one of the escapees, Benjamin Thomas, tried to solo to victory.
With 54-km to go, Woods’ EF Pro Cycling took over the front of the peloton, drawing the fugitives closer and putting Chris Froome in difficulty. Yellow-clad Ecuadorian champion Jonathan Klever Caicedo in particular toiled for the Pink Armada.
The six-pack of chasers brought Thomas back.
The @NVHooydonck chasing group has caught the lone leader 👊 with the peloton now 2’25” back to the breakaway inside 40km to go. #RideForMore 📷 @TirrenAdriatico pic.twitter.com/IHHxQASsyL
— CCC Team (@CCCProTeam) September 9, 2020
Uncategorized climbs like the Manciano chipped away at the break’s advantage.
With the fugitives just within touching distance, Deceuninck-Quick Step and Ineos took over the front before the Murella, nicknamed “Muro del Pirata” after Marco Pantani.
#TirrenoAdriatico – Poggio Murella climb. Start will be at 10 to go, but from 13 to go the road will already be uphill. pic.twitter.com/ijt149gvhw
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) September 9, 2020
On the Murella, Quick Step’s Frenchman Florian Sénéchal lit out after the final escapee, Matt Holmes (Great Britain/Lotto-Soudal). Both were sopped up just before the peak.
Woods grabbed the reins, with Geraint Thomas and Jakob Fuglsang able to go with him. Woods topped the Murella and then went solo on the descent.
With 6.2 km remaining, Rafal Majka bridged over to the Canadian. Their gap over a high-powered chase containing Thomas, Fuglsang and Simon Yates was small.
Going under the red kite, the duo had a 15-second lead. There was no time for cat and mouse games. Majka led out the sprint, Woods attacked with 150-metres to the line and took a fine victory.
Woods has a tough Stage 4 on which to defend his blue leader’s jersey; there are two HC-rated climbs in the final third of the 194-km route to Cascia.
“I had no choice but to step up my game,” said @rusty_woods about the work by his teammates at @EFprocycling that led to his #TirrenoAdriatico2020
stage win today. “The GC certainly is not over. It’s going to be a long week.”
— Canadian Cycling Mag (@CanadianCycling) September 9, 2020
2020 Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 3
1) Michael Woods (Canada/EF Pro Cycling) 5:19:46
2) Rafal Majka (Poland/Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:01
3) Wilco Kelderman (The Netherlands/Sunweb) +0:20
2020 Tirreno-Adriatico GC
1) Michael Woods (Canada/EF Pro Cycling) 13:19:24
2) Rafal Majka (Poland/Bora-Hansgrohe +0:05
3) Wilco Kelderman (The Netherlands/Sunweb) +0:26