Edoardo Zardini wins Tour of Britain stage 3

The Tour of Britain offers up its first major hilltop finish. Zardini seizes the win and GC lead.

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Bardiani’s Edoardo Zardini climbed to victory atop The Tumble in stage 3 of the Tour of Britain Wednesday. He now holds the overall lead in the race.

“It’s fantastic day for me and the team,” Zardini said. “I attacked at the bottom of the climb, and still at the end, I was strong. Thanks to the work of my team.” It was Zardini’s first major win since the Giro del Trentino stage 2 in April.

The Italian attacked with four kilometers left alongside Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp).

With 2.7 kilometers to go in the 179.9km stage, Zardini opened a gap over his breakaway companion, holding a 17-second advantage over the field, with Sky’s Bradley Wiggins driving the pace at the front.

“We wanted to keep Bradley in contention and limit our losses,” said Sky’s Ben Swift. “We all rode well together. There was a bit of a hectic run into bottom of The Tumble and we lost each other a bit, but Bradley did a great job.”

Roche jumped from the field with two kilometers left and quickly blew by the leader. However, Zardini would not be denied a chance at the stage win. Digging deep with 1.6km to go, he latched onto Roche’s wheel.

Just inside of the final kilometer of the 1,000-foot final climb, Zardini made his move and rode alone to win the day and take the GC lead in the eight-stage tour.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski was second, 13 seconds behind, and Nicholas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) was third, 17 seconds down.

“Mark Renshaw had the leader’s jersey so of course we had to control the race for him,” said Kwiatkowski. “We were happy to do that. My teammates, such as Michal Golas, also worked to set me up so I could finish well on the uphill finish, so their work was immense today. … It was not an easy climb in the final, it was really steep. We tried to set a high tempo with Sky. You could see guys were dropping from the group. I was trying to go and escape, but everybody reacted to my move. In one moment Roche and Zardini went and nobody wanted to catch them. We played a game in the last two or three kilometers. I knew I could finish well with 300 or 400 meters to go, do my maximum effort and see what happens. I happened to finish 2nd so I am happy. I’m thrilled my condition is there.”

“The Tour of Britain has started in the best way for me,” said Zardini. “I hope to defend the race lead.

“It’s the most important victory of my career. I am really happy.”

Zardini leads the GC by 13 seconds, ahead of Kwiatkowski. Roche is third, 17 seconds back.

Thursday’s stage 4 will ride 184.6km from Worcester to Bristol, finishing atop a category 2 climb.

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