BALATONFRED: Veteran Mark Cavendish won stage three of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday after launching a long sprint for the line at the end of a flat 201km run to Lake Balaton in Hungary.
Dutch ace Mathieu van der Poel retained the overall leader’s pink jersey as Quick-Step’s Cavendish easily outpaced FDJ’s Arnaud Demare with Team UAE’s Fernando Gaviria coming third.
It was a 16th stage win on the Giro for the 36-year-old Cavendish who is riding the Italian grand tour after a nine-year break.
“It’s never easy to win the first stage of a grand tour because it’s so chaotic,” Cavendish said.
“I’m not very young anymore, I’m usually in gear after four to five days, but at the end of the day I’m still the old Cavendish.” He is the joint record holder for stage wins in the Tour de France after he defied the odds with a return to form in 2021 when he won four stages.
Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan failed to produce, possibly still suffering from his stage one fall in Visegrad.
In the overall standings Van der Poel leads Briton Simon Yates by 11 seconds and the 2017 Giro champion Tom Dumoulin is third at 15sec.
The race and its remaining peloton of 175 riders switches to Italy from Tuesday for the fourth stage that involves a long, steep climb up Mount Etna.
“I should be able to keep the lead as far as Etna, beyond that I can’t say,” Van der Poel said.