Nicola Ruffoni of Bardiani CSF claimed third stage of Tour of Croatia Thursday, plagued by numerous falls and strong bursts of northern wind. Coming out as the fastest man in sprinting duel of bunch finish, Ruffoni beat over Giacomo Nizzolo of Trek-Segafredo, far more prolific but not fully recovered sprinter, who recently came out of six-months long rehab.
UAE Team Emirates stars weren't of same luck. General classification leader after two stages, big home-crowd favorite Kristijan Durasek, has fallen some 45 kilometers before goal line, which he finally entered two and a half minutes later than winning bunch. Due to a sore feeling in chest area, he straightly underwent x-rays procedure in nearby hospital. His further participation in the race is doubtful.
Similarly, unlucky was Sacha Modolo, Italian sprinting specialist of the same team, who went down heavily just before three kilometers mark prior to finish, which would have enabled him the time of the winner. Although it seemed pretty bad at first view, with him lying down and not moving, Modolo succeeded to climb on his bike and to get to the end of the race. His time gap was even bigger, almost four and a half minutes.
Dramatic events consequently brought Jaime Roson Garcia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) to the leading position after half of the event. He has five seconds advantage over Vincenzo Nibali. CCC Sprandi Polkowice's duo Jan Hirt and Felix Grossschartner, now after dropping out of Durasek main pretenders to the crown, are following tightly.
Eight riders were engaged in early breakaway Thursday. Stephan Rabitsch (Team Felbermayr – Simplon Wels), Daniel Turek (Israel Cycling Academy), Oleksandr Polivoda (Kolss Cycling Team), Ziga Groselj (Adria Mobil) and Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), mostly powered by Adriano Brogi, Davide Pacchiardo and Marco Tizza, three members of small team of Continental category GM Europa Ovini, spent more than 180 kilometers running away from the main group. Against odds and against heavy local wind called 'bura' they "failed to reach glory, but earned a ton of respect", as Israel Cycling Academy has communicated through its Twitter account, celebrating their hero Turek.
Peloton has caught the leading group finally about four kilometers to go, utilizing obvious improvements in weather conditions. Main group cut the gap in astonishing tempo actually, as the group of eight had almost five-minute advantage less than 40 kilometers before end.
Fourth stage of Tour of Croatia, which is 171 - kilometer long, is taking place on Friday from Crikvenica to Umag. Its probable resolution yet another time might be a bunch finish. Early breakaways are not to exclude anyway. Candidates for overall ranking victory will try to do the same what they did, with more or less success, today: to preserve themselves and to preserve the time gap.