Michal Kwiatkowski takes leader's jersey from teammate Mark Cavendish

Peter Sagan punched the air in delight as he conquered a tricky uphill drag to win stage three of Tirreno-Adriatico today and mark his second victory of the season.

The Cannondale star best new race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) on the stone slab finishing circuit in Arezzo with a powerful sprint.

Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) was the best of the ‘pure’ sprinters and the only one to finish in the front group that cleared the last 900m, which featured a maximum gradient of 11 per cent, and an average of five, at the end of the somewhat lumpy 210km run. Kwiatkowski’s teammate and former race leader Mark Cavendish as well as quadruple Tour de France stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) were not in the mix at the finish.

The third stage was relatively straightforward and a four-man break including Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF), Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka), Bjorn Thurau (Europcar) and Cesare Benedetti (NetApp Endura) established as the main escape early in the piece.

The quartet achieved a maximum time gap of more than six minutes before Thurau, much like Alex Dowsett (Movistar) yesterday, attacked his companions with some 30km remaining.

The German grimaced as he powered ahead solo. However, he knew his day was over with 6km remaining where he glanced behind at the nearing peloton and sat-up.

Greipel’s team, minus Jurgen Van Den Broeck, who abandoned following a crash in yesterday’s eventful stage, drove at the front as Omega Pharma-Quick Step also came to fore. Cavendish had previously been sitting safely at the end of his team’s train throughout the race but had disappeared at this point. BMC and Tinkoff-Saxo also took turns although Philippe Gilbert, racing for the former, fell short of the podium in the final.

Kittel may not have been in the mix in what on paper was deemed as one of three ‘flat’ stages but did create a buzz on social media this morning with some inventive title sponsor damage control. The 25 year old turned yesterday’s bike throw incident into positive and amusing PR with a Tweet and some flowers.

Strade Bianche champion Kwiatkowski is well positioned in the overall standings ahead of teammate Rigoberto Uran ahead of tomorrow’s fourth stage. Sky’s Richie Porte plus Cadel Evans (BMC) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) will need to make up precious time over the weekend.

Results
Tirreno-Adriatico 2014, stage three: Cascina to Arezzo, 210km

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 5-10-17
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3. Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
5. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo
7. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol
8. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano
9. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale at 4 secs
10. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Overall classification after stage three
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 9-26-36
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 10 secs
3. Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 13 secs
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 15 secs
5. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge at 17 secs
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 22 secs
7. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol at 30 secs
8. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 31 secs
10. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge

Peter Sagan wins Stage 3 of the 2014 Tirreno Adriatico from Michal Kwiatkowski and Simon Clarke.

Peter Sagan wins Stage 3 of the 2014 Tirreno Adriatico from Michal Kwiatkowski and Simon Clarke.