Ryder Hesjedal bothers the peloton

I’ve spoken before about grand tours basically being a prolonged bout of whittling. They’re not won. It’s more that at the end, one person hasn’t yet lost. As such, most of the significant action actually takes place away from the cameras.

Why attack?

On stage three, Ryder Hesjedal attacked on the final climb. The focus was on whether the move would come off and whether Hesjedal could win the stage. However, more importantly, this attack and others which followed utterly knackered up the bunch and all sorts of people lost time on the day. Mostly, these people were insignificant in terms of the general classification, but not always.

Who lost time on stage three?

Salvatore Puccio lost seven minutes and the race lead. Michele Scarponi crashed while descending and lost about a minute. Sergio Henao didn’t make the front group and lost 30 seconds or so. Carlos Betancur and Domenico Pozzovivo added another 50 seconds to their team time trial losses – although being as the end of the stage involved descending on narrow roads, the latter will probably settle for that. Descending on narrow roads isn’t the one dimension that our Domenico boasts.

Anything else?

Bonifications! I don’t think anyone likes the artifice of them, but time bonuses do enliven bike racing. They mean the main contenders often have something to compete for as they near the line.

  • 20 seconds for the winner
  • 12 seconds for second place
  • 8 seconds for third place

Luca Paolini won the stage (partly because the general classification rivals don’t see him as a threat) and took the overall lead, but there was a sprint among the big names in the small group which followed him in. Cadel Evans came second and earned himself a few seconds, while Hesjedal came third to get a small reward for the day’s efforts.

Judging by the fact that Robert Gesink is already getting himself comfortable in 15th place, the general classification is starting to take shape. Wiggins is still second. Nibali is fifth.