2023 Giro d’Italia Stage 3 Preview

Vasto > Melfi 213km

The third stage sees the riders continue the drive south, and it’s a day for the climbing sprinters. It’s a long stage, and with only 1749m of climbing you’d be excused for thinking it was going to be a big sprint, but the positioning of the climbs makes it hard for those who don’t go well uphill.


Another warm day, but there’s a risk of showers in the afternoon.

The Climbs

Just inside the final 40km the bunch hit this cat 3 climb, this is where the pressure will be applied to the sprinters who don’t climb very well, I’m looking at you, Mark Cavendish! The back door will be open and quite a few will slide out. The climb has a nasty looking section in the middle where gradients get over 10%. A descent of 4km follows, before the next climb.

It’s “only” a cat 4, but if some sprinters have gone deep surviving the last climb, this will push them over the edge. From the crest, there’s 26km to go.


The final 10km is full of little kickers, including the final 300m which rises at an average of 3.3%. It’s not an easy finish, and I think we could see a few attacks in the closing 5km.


Everyone knows this is a stage where the teams of climbing sprinters will put the pressure on and try to drop those who don’t climb well, but just how hard will they go? Do Jayco and EF think they can drop Pedersen? I doubt this. Will GC teams try anything? Not a chance, it’s only the opening weekend of the race.

Trek-Segafredo, EF, Jayco and maybe Alpecin will apply pressure on the climb and drop the pure sprinters. I don’t think they’ll go too hard, as they’ll need men for the final 20km. The bunch will be reduced for the finish, but it’s still going to be relatively big. This is a day for the climbing sprinters.


Mads Pedersen – bad luck stopped him today; he goes again tomorrow. This is a perfect stage for him, he starts as the huge favourite. Trek-Segafredo don’t have to do anything silly on the climbs, they need to save as many men as possible for the finale. Get Mads in a good position and the win is his.

Michael Matthews – this is one of the stages he’ll have marked down before the race started. I’m a big fan of Bling, I’ve followed his career closely since I watched him take a brilliant win in Stirling, all the way back in 2011. Since then, he’s won 4 stages at the Tour, 3 in the Vuelta and 2 at the Giro, it’s been a great ride for him, but they’ll always be the question of what could have been. You see, he’s ridden in an era where he first came up against a rampant Peter Sagan, and just when he was slowing down, up popped Van Aert and van der Poel. Matthews is an exceptional cyclist, it’s just a shame most of his career he’s been up against even more exceptional riders. This stage is a perfect case in point. His team will make it hard, and the uphill finish is good for him, but now he comes up against Mads Pedersen, someone who is faster than him in a sprint finish. Can Jayco get rid of Mads? Unlikely, Bling will need to hope he can beat him on the line.

Magnus Cort – he’s not at his best yet, I think that’s pretty clear for all to see. Cort is another exceptional cyclist, someone who has developed from being a sprinter into an all-terrain vehicle. As he’s doing the Giro/Tour double, I think he’s deliberately come in a little undercooked, especially if he’s got one eye on the worlds too. He’ll be in the mix, but I don’t see him beating those already mentioned. 

Kaden Groves – he’s always been a decent climber, this year he’s been much better than just “decent”. In terms of his climbing, he’s not up there with Pedersen, Matthews, and Cort but the hills in this stage should be within his capabilities. I expect him to survive and be in the mix come the end, but I don’t think he’ll win.

Jake Stewart – this stage should be a good one for him, he likes a sprint after a tough day in the saddle. Positioning for the final kilometres will be very important, someone like Stefan Küng is perfect to get Jakey into a good position for the sprint. Beating someone like Pedersen won’t be easy, but he’s got a good shot at finishing in the top 3.

Jonathan Milan – climbs well for a big guy, but this will still be a big test. This is his first grand tour, and the first time he’ll have experienced the furious pace set to dislodge the sprinters, he could well find it hard to hold on.

Fernando Gaviria – will he survive the climbs? No.

Vincenzo Albanese – it’s taken him a while to find his feet at this level, but now that he has, he’s capable of big things. He’s climbing very well just now, and he’s managed to maintain his sprinting speed, I think he’ll have one eye on the sprint jersey. We’ll see how he fares going up against some of the more powerful riders, I think he could challenge for the top 5.

Samuele Battistella – late attack option 1.

Mads Würtz – late attack option 2.

Prediction Time

An uphill sprint, after a few climbs to weaken the legs. In any sprint, positioning is always important, but I think in a reduced sprint it’s even more crucial. Which team will have the bodies to deliver their sprinter into the best position for the final rise to the line?

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As Trek-Segafredo will likely have Mollema, Skujinš, Tesfatsion and Kirsch available to guide in the closing kilometres, I think we’ll see a win for Mads Pedersen.