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If the remainder of the 2013 Giro d’Italia offers the excitement of stage three, race historians will declare it a classic.
Defending champion, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), was the instigator of today’s breathless finish, riding as if to prove a point to those who had cast the 96th edition of the corsa rosa as a battle between Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Niabli (Astana).
The Canadian launched countless attacks, on climbs, ascents, and, with just two kilometres of the stage remaining, on the flat.
Wiggins, Niabli, Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) all remained in touch with Hesjedal today, but Cadel Evans, alone of the GC contenders, went one better, beating the Canadian and claiming a 12-second time bonus.
The day belonged unquestionably, however, to stage winner and new maglia rosa, Luca Paolini (Katusha), who raced with bravery and skill to the biggest win of his career.
Our man with the camera, Stefano Sirrotti, was on hand to capture all the excitement in these superb images.