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The day’s breakaway trio – Mattia Bais, Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper-Androni), Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa) – escaped with minimal effort shortly after the flag drop. An attack from Rivi shed Tagliani with 41km still to race, and the remaining duo held off the peloton for another 13km.
A short fourth category climb 13km from the finish provided the only obstacle on an otherwise flat course, and the King of the Mountains points at its summit were enough to entice attacks from Pascal Eekhoorn (Jumbo-Visma) and Rick Zabel (Israel-Premier Tech). Eekhoorn won that battle and built up a small lead over a peloton preparing itself for the final sprint.
Once he was caught, the leadouts began in earnest and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl was virtually anonymous until four of its riders hit the front with just 1.5km left to race.
Cavendish was dropped off in a perfect position but still had to hold off the attentions of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama FDJ) to take his first Giro stage win in nine years.
You can watch highlights from stage 3 here: