Giro del Toscana
Lari - Volterra, 123km
A wet, very wet, day on the Giro del Toscana for Stage 3. The course was severe too. A mountains competition climb back up to the old town of Lari, just 15km after leaving strained the bunch's legs, before a long run to Volterra.
The race details changed 'on the road', with the organisers opting for a safer ascent and subsequent descent through Volterra than the planned course, which would have seen riders descending on slick, wet cobble stones at a 15% gradient.
The bunch was already fragmented when it appeared for the first time through the finish town. The climb, several kilometres long, had seen to that. Through the town, the cobbles were slick, the gradient very steep in places. Riders pushed their bodies through before descending for a 30km lap which would bring them back to the same spot at hour later. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, T-Mobile had made the going difficult for her competitors on the way to Volterra, but she 'handed over' to team-mate Judith Arndt when the gradient changed. Arndt was among several in a lead bunch which passed through Volterra some time ahead of the rest.
From this group, Nicole Brändli (Team Bigla) and Svetlana Bubnenkova (Colnago Fenixs) escaped slightly as they climbed to the finish line. Brändli established a slender 3 seconds lead over Bubnenkova and managed to stay ahead to take the stage. She celebrated with a one-handed wave on her way to the line, but was clearly 'spent' when she crossed it. Bubnenkova looked relatively fresh in comparison, whilst Judith Arndt won a sprint to take third.
The race lead transfers to Brändli, the young rider competition is led by Suzanne de Goede (AA Drink), Bubnenkova takes the mountains jersey, Mariane Vos (Netherlands) leads the points competition, Annalisa Cucinotta (Michela Fanini) is sprints leader.
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