ORBETELLO, Italy (Reuters) - Fernando Gaviria of Colombia claimed a hollow victory on the Giro d’Italia after his former team mate, Italian champion Elia Viviani, was disqualified from the third stage on Monday.
“The Jury watched the video footage of the sprint and has decided to relegate Elia Viviani. The winner is Fernando Gaviria,” organisers said.
Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Viviani appeared to deviate from his line of sprinting to block out Matteo Moschetti, but Team UAE’s Gaviria, who was also part of the Belgian outfit last year, said the Italian deserved to win.
“Elia is always fair, it is hard to celebrate,” the Colombian told reporters.
“When he moved to the left, he did it without bad intention. To me he is the clear winner of today’s stage. I feel bad for him.”
Gaviria left his arms behind his back on the podium, refusing to celebrate.
France’s Arnaud Demare was second and German Pascal Ackermann third.
Slovenian Primoz Roglic retained the overall leader’s pink jersey at the end of a 220-km ride from Vinci that ended in chaotic fashion.
Crosswinds and a sharp left-hand turn in the finale made the peloton nervous and a crash with 5.5km left split the bunch in two, with British hope Tao Geoghegan Hart losing 1:28 after the Team Ineos youngster was caught on the wrong end.
The 24-year-old, on his Giro debut, had been named as one of two Team Ineos leaders with 21-year-old Pavel Sivakov in the absence of Colombian Egan Bernal, who is out of the race after sustaining a broken collarbone in training.
Sivakov and Geoghegan Hart shone in the Tour of the Alps last month, but team manager Dave Brailsford said last week the two young guns were on the Giro to learn.
Geoghan Hart, who was seventh overall after a good opening time trial, dropped to 57th, 2:03 behind Roglic.
The Slovenian was always well positioned in the bunch, being perfectly sheltered by his Jumbo-Visma team mates.
“With only one rider in the breakaway, it made it a very long stage. It enabled me to enjoy the Maglia Rosa (jersey) a bit more,” he told reporters.
“I wasn’t really scared of the crosswinds at the end because we are a team from Holland so we know how to deal with the wind.”
Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz, fourth in last year’s Giro, lost 46 seconds after suffering a late mechanical problem.
Roglic leads Briton Simon Yates by 19 seconds and twice Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali by 23 going into Tuesday’s fourth stage, a 235-km ride from Orbetello to Frascati.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ian Chadband