Italy's Luca Paolini wins third stage of Giro d'Italia, takes lead
MARINA DI ASCEA, Italy (AP) -- Luca Paolini of Italy used a late solo attack to win the third stage of the Giro d'Italia on Monday and take the overall lead from compatriot Salvatore Puccio.
Paolini, who rides for Katusha, broke away toward the end of the final descent to complete the 138-mile leg from Sorrento to Marina di Ascea in 5 hours, 43 minutes, 50 seconds.
Cadel Evans beat defending champion Ryder Hesjedal in a bunch sprint for second place, with both finishing 16 seconds behind. Overall favorite Bradley Wiggins finished eighth on the stage and is second in the general standings, 17 seconds behind Paolini. Main rival Vincenzo Nibali is fifth, 14 seconds further back.
Paolini timed his break to perfection on the descent of the Sella Di Catona, attacking four miles from the finish. Hesjedal attacked several times but could not build enough of an advantage and was caught each time.
"It's incredible to win like that and take the pink jersey as well," Paolini said. "My father was in hospital today for a minor operation, and so this pink jersey is for him.
"I suffered to stay on during the climb and tried to ride at my pace. I knew there was a little climb near the finish and know I can descend pretty well. I went for it. I rode as if it was a (one-day) classic."
The third stage took the riders along the picturesque Amalfi coast, and featured an early breakaway by seven riders who built a lead of more than seven minutes at the midway point.
But the Sky riders, who won the team trial in the second stage Sunday, was in control of the pack and the gap slowly began to shrink as they approached the start of the first climb of the day, up the San Mauro Cilento. At the summit, the leaders had an advantage of just more than four minutes.
Fabio Taborre made a solo breakaway from the leading group with 31 miles to go, but the peloton again picked up the pace and swallowed up the chasers before catching the Italian.
Hesjedal then attacked with 15.5 miles remaining, was caught and broke again together with Valerio Agnoli and Paolini.
The group was again back together nine miles from the end before Paolini's attack on the final part of the twisting descent to the line.
Tuesday's fourth stage is another hilly and long (153 miles) course. It goes from Policastro Bussentino to Serra San Bruno, the second-longest leg of this year's Giro. The race ends May 26 in Brescia.