Soudal Quick-Step’s Swiss put in another solid display in Italy.
Mauro Schmid defended his overall lead at this week’s Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, after a complicated stage 3 which took the peloton to Forli – the town of Caterina Sforza, one of Renaissance Italy’s most influential and powerful women.
Monte Cavallo (4.7km, 7.2%) with its tricky gravel roads sections was the day’s main attraction, the hardest climb on a circuit that the peloton had to tackle several times. It was there with 20 kilometers to go that three riders jumped clear, just as the gradient stiffened, opening a hefty gap over the stretched-out peloton. Mauro found himself part of the reduced chasing group, taking some long pulls on the descent to claw back time as the leading trio was driving hard to expand their advantage.
An old-school finish, on the Forli velodrome, awaited the riders at the end of Thursday’s 140 kilometers, and it was Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) who prevailed there, 25 seconds clear of the chasers. Schmid concluded in fifth place, enough to keep the leader’s jersey ahead of the penultimate stage – in addition to the points one – and even increase his lead over the next rider in the general classification to eight seconds.
Photo credit: ©Sirotti