SESTRI LEVANTE, Italy (Reuters) - Australia’s Michael Matthews extended his overall Giro d’Italia lead after sprinting to victory in a third stage that saw Italian Domenico Pozzovivo suffer a horrific crash on Monday.
The Orica-GreenEDGE rider, who claimed the pink jersey after the second stage, pocketed a 10-second bonus for his win ahead of Italian Fabio Felline (Trek) and Belgian Philippe Gilbert.
Matthews leads team mates and compatriots Simon Clarke and Simon Gerrans by six and 10 seconds respectively going into Tuesday’s fourth stage of 150-km from Chiavari to La Spezia.
The stage was marked by the crash of Pozzovivo, who hit the ground head first in a descent with about 40km left.
The 32-year-old, hoping for a podium finish after coming fifth overall last year, was carried away motionless on a stretcher with a neck brace and wrapped in a survival blanket.
But he was “conscious and lucid”, his AG2R-La Mondiale team said, quoting the race doctor.
The accident brought back memories of the 2011 Giro in which Belgian Wouter Weylandt died after crashing on the third stage.
This year’s overall Giro contenders, Alberto Contador of Spain and Richie Porte of Australia, enjoyed a drama-free day in the peloton.
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris