Taco van der Hoorn took a remarkable solo victory from the breakaway as Filippo Ganna retained the pink jersey on stage three of the Giro d’Italia. The 27-year-old Van der Hoorn, making his Grand Tour debut in this race, held his hand to his mouth in shock as he crossed the line just four seconds before the charging peloton in Canale.
Davide Cimolai won the race for second place just ahead of Peter Sagan, whose Bora-Hansgrohe team had done so much of the work on the front of the peloton, pushing to try to drop rival sprinters but getting their timing wrong when it came to chasing down the break.
“I can’t believe it,” Van der Hoorn said. “I just wanted to go in the break and be aggressive for the whole Giro, I know how difficult it is to try to win a stage or even get to the finish line with the group but if there’s even 0.5% of a chance you just take it.”
The Ineos Grenadiers rider Ganna was safely in the peloton to retain the pink jersey, the Italian continuing to lead by 16 seconds from Tobias Foss with no major changes at the top of the general classification before the potential for a more serious shake-up on Tuesday.
Van der Hoorn was the last survivor from a youthful eight-man breakaway which had gone up the road with hardly any hope, let alone expectation as the 190km stage from Biella began on damp roads. The group included four riders still in their first professional season, including the 18-year-old Andrii Ponomar, the youngest rider in the Giro since 1929.
A lead that reached six-and-a-half minutes was gradually cut down on the leg-draining rolling finish to the stage and it seemed a matter of when they would be caught, even when Van der Hoorn raced away from Simon Pellaud to go solo with nine kilometres remaining.
“I didn’t believe [we had a chance] when it was only one minute with 25km to go, but the guy from Androni [Pellaud] was pulling really hard on the last climb,” the Dutchman added. “He was tired so I dropped him, and then I heard on the radio the gap was 40 seconds so I just went full gas to the line. With one kilometre to go I was looking back and thinking ‘I’m going to make it’. The last part was incredible.”
Van der Hoorn joined Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert from Jumbo-Visma in the winter, as the Belgian squad stepped up to the WorldTour level. In a quote published on his team’s Twitter account, Van Der Hoorn said: “Five months ago I considered quitting cycling because I had no contract. Today, I won a stage on the Giro d’Italia.”
Attention now turns to Tuesday’s 187km hilly stage from Piacenza to the uphill finish in Sestola, where the first major changes to the overall standings since the opening time trial could come.