Francesco Busatto (Italy) sprinted to victory in the third stage of the ORLEN Nations Grand Prix, an all-Slovakian stage that started in Levoca and finished 1347 metres up in Štrbské Pleso. Gal Glivar (Slovenia) claimed the second post on the podium and Carlos Canal (Spain) in third.
“I probably stayed in the wheel the whole time and in the end I felt in good shape, so I tried and I made it,” said a shy and happy Francesco Busatto at the finish line. “I was surprised to find that the last climb wasn’t that hard, I felt good and thought I could fight to win. I did it. I’m really happy with the way it went and it’s all thanks to the team. I dedicate this result to them because it wasn’t just me who won, it was a team victory. They did a great job and I have to thank them for that.”
Today’s 124-kilometre stage, very demanding with a long final climb, which was marked by unpredictable weather from the start, with riders greeted by light rain despite the temperature being above 20 degrees.
From the very first kilometre, the Polish riders set a fast pace in the peloton, proving to be very active and responsive to the various attacks of the other teams.
Attacks and counter-attacks made this important stage stand out, with the various teams taking turns at the front to keep the race close: after Poland, it was Denmark, followed by Luxembourg and then Italy, until the Spanish team, led by Diego Uriarte, made its move in the final five kilometres.
But even the Iberian had to give up when he was caught in the final kilometre. A bunched sprint ensued, with Francesco Busatto winning ahead of Gal Glivar and Carlos Canal.
As was the case yesterday, leader Nikolaj Mengel suffered in the finale but managed to keep the leader’s jersey he has been wearing since winning the first stage.
France now leads the team classification.
Tomorrow, the whole caravan will move to Poland for the fourth and penultimate stage, a rather rough and treacherous 124 kilometres from Bukowina Resort to Nowy Sącz.