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And a really badly-timed puncture for Nicholas Roche, who drops off the back of the pack to sort his bike out. Chris Anker Sörensen hangs back to help him catch up with the peloton.
Marcel Kittel and his team-mates are manoeuvring themselves to the front, as Cecchinel’s min-break comes to an end. 7km to go.
With the lead almost into single figures, Cecchinel has launched a solo second break. Good luck with that.
Giorgio Cecchinel is at the front of what is now a breakaway four, practically begging anyone to give him a hand at the front. The fifth breakaway member, Miguel Angel Rubiano, has given up and disappeared into the throng.
OK, now I’m being welcomed to Eurosport’s coverage of the motocross. I’m still watching the cycling. Nicola Ruffoni swaps bikes now, with 12km to go.
Marcel Kittel is nicely poised, in the second row of the peloton. Eurosport mess up their audio feed. “Hello, hello, hello, can you hear me?” says someone. “That’s really loud, Jack,” says someone else.
The leaders pass under the 15km-to-go arch, looking behind to see who’s coming. Their lead is 26 seconds.
The fab front five are now 33sec ahead of the peloton. It was fun while it lasted.
The peloton zips through Portmarnock, which means they’re getting pretty close to Dublin.
There’s some football happening at the moment, as you might know. It’s Man City 1-0 West Ham and Liverpool 0-1 Newcastle at half-time, as you might know.
Team Sky’s Ben Swift gets himself a new bike, his mechanical issues, whatever they were, happening inconveniently just as the peloton was vaguely reaching top speed.
With 24km to go, there’s a 48-second gap. This should come down to a battle between the big-name sprinters, as predicted.
Liam Rooney, a volunteer marshall, reports:
I’m outside Skerries and very wet.
The breakaway fivesome have had their fun. Their lead is now only a salami-slice more than a minute, and fading fast.
At the next roundabout, everyone goes the same side
A smidgeon over 30km to go, and the front five soon to reach Swords have a 1min 45sec-shaped cushion.
“Here in Austria, Eurosport aren’t even showing the Giro. Neither is anyone else. Pathetic,” rages Ben Hemmens, who describes himself as “a frustrated native of north county Dublin”. On the plus side, they did win Eurovision
The crash happened at the far side of a roundabout. The peloton split to go both sides of it, and as they reunited someone slowed down and lots of people arrived at pace behind him. Not a serious one.
Crash! More riders inconvenienced than hurt, but there are a few cyclists on the floor, including Przemyslaw Niemiec of Lampre-Merida and Orica GreenEdge’s Cameron Meyer, who is holding his cheek.
Here’s an update from James Longhurst, a couple of hours after his last: “Looks like Dublin has woken up to the giro now there’s a real buzz and that corner has dried out. Still gonna play a role in the sprint, if a team has scouted the finish properly they’ll get through that dogleg smoothly I reckon it will break the peloton and the last 350 will be between 4/5 riders who get through that corner first. Slightly drier picture attached – still from the same pub window”
The going is grey but good in Malahide, about 22.5km from the finish line.
The peloton cycles through Skerries, three minutes and a single second behind the breakaway five. The talk among the commentary team is the crash that forced Michael Matthews of his bike he clearly landed on his backside, ripping his shorts in a way that has left a somewhat embarrassing display of flesh.
“I have found the Eurosport commentary really dull and flat today,” notes Hilly Bowling. “Where is Carlton Kirby?” Never mind Carlton Kirby, I’d take Bagpuss.
“How many riders were messed about by UK Border Paranoia?” asks Mike Thompson. “Imagine if a couple of the England World Cup squad couldn’t go to Brazil because the Brazilian authorities didn’t process their visas imagine the outrage from the little Englanders.” Certainly Yonder Godoy, who has been leading pretty much all day today, and his fellow Venezuelan Jackson Rodriguez were forced to hang around an airport in Rome for a while, and Astana had to pull a couple of Kazakh riders even though they had applied for visas on 17 April. Embarrassing, at best.
With 48km to go, two-time Giro winner Ivan Basso changes his front wheel. Yes he does.
Excellent crowds in Balbriggan as the leaders pass through. Really very impressive. And only very few umbrellas, promisingly.
We’ve had a pink cow already today. Here’s a pink donkey.
The peloton has slowed down while they wait for the Astana riders to get back on their bikes and catch up, allowing the breakaway five to move back to around four minutes clear.
“A German living in Ireland with his Greek wife is watching the Giro,” writes Roland Tritsch. “In Clontarf. Breezy, but we are looking good for a dry sprint. Go Kittel, go. And Happy Birthday.”
Crash! Lots of people have been introduced to a grass verge, with some of them going full-on hedgewards. Michele Scarponi, wearing No1, is among them. Enrico Gasparotto, also of Astana, is having a faceful of mud wiped off. Valerio Agnoli also in Astana’s light blue is limping and holding his back.
If anyone’s still reading this from streetside, having recently been cycled past or preparing to be cycled past, are you finding this more exciting that Eurosport’s commentators are? Because they’re basically only a small step up from unconscious.
Sorry, just took a comfort break. The leaders are indeed now in Drogheda. 66km to go.
The crowd being cycled past is about 30% umbrella-holding, I’d say.
The front five are currently a smidgeon under three minutes clear of the pack, with 77km to go (which means they’re gradually approaching Drogheda).
Endless photographs of pink-clad people having maximum if slightly damp fun. Though I think there probably are some parties even better than a Giro Dundalk party.
Exactly 100km into the stage, 87km to go. That puts the leaders somewhere between Castlebellingham and Dunleer.
The breakaway are just two minutes clear now, with 92km to go. TV cameras are largely showing cyclists taking jackets off, or cyclists putting jackets back on again.
Is it acceptable to paint a cow pink? I feel a little uncomfortable about it, but am willing to accept it if it makes their milk taste of strawberry.
The main thing Eurosport are broadcasting is a picture of the finish line, which I’d suggest is extremely premature. They’ve promised to sort themselves out during the ad break that’s just begun.
Newsflash. The gap is shrinking, though still quite slowly.
100 km to go, 302 gap for Godoy, Rubiano, Cecchinel, Dockx and Tjallingii #giro
Another crash. The roads in Dublin are absolutely sodden, and there may be several slides ahead. Manuel Belletti is one of the fallers this time, and he looks in some distress as he’s seen to by medical staff.
Super photograph, this. Well done.
Andrea Fedi has had a fall. He looks fine, but his back wheel looks all messed up. As he stands up, some chap sticks a camera at his knee for a full-on close-up of a freshly-sustained graze. Nice pic, laddo. One for the living-room wall, that.
The cyclists spent the first hour going at, on average, 39.6km/h. At that speed the stage will take four hours and 43 minutes to complete the 187km stage and finish a little after 4.30pm.
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It’s Marcel Kittel’s birthday today. He’s 26. Happy birthday Marcel!
He may be too busy to read the liveblog at present, but I’m sure he plans to catch up later.
Eurosport have finally flicked the switch, so things are looking up. There is evidence of some sunshine, and lots of people in pink.
Another photo from today, showing grey skies from which no water is falling. Heavy showers are forecast for the afternoon.
The breakaway fivesome lead by a little over five minutes. The fab five are Godoy, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Gert Dockx, Maarten Tjallingii and Giorgio Cecchinel.
Another email, this from James Longhurst: “I’m at the stage finish in Dublin (in a pub at about 400m from the finish) it’s soaking here and there’s a dog-leg in the road covered with a yellow junction box and plenty of puddles already if it doesn’t dry out the corner is gonna be very skiddy expect a crash in the sprint!” Aha, that’ll be the “chicane in the final 500 metres” that William Fotheringham mentioned. “Picture from Kennedy’s pub window attached.”
“Just leaving house to walk along coast road Portmarnock to Malahide,” reports John Caul, who is on the scene. “Excited, roads closing, lots of pink. Sunshine at the moment. Mass was short because of race and priest is a Liverpool supporter!” Good to get the priorities right
Here’s a live picture from today. Umbrellas very much in evidence.
No television coverage as yet, but the leaders appear to be approaching Fews Forrest with Yonder Godoy whose name is spectacularly hard to read on the official Giro website, where it basically looks like GOOOY at the front of a five-man break.
Incidentally, you can catch up on yesterday’s rainy shenanigans with William Fotheringham’s report, which can be found in full here but starts like this:
Mark Cavendish might well have something to say about it, and indeed will have his say at the Tour de France, but for the moment, cycling’s new sprint king is Marcel Kittel. Victory on Donegall Square here the day before his 26th birthday means the German has now taken stages in all three Grand Tours. With his four stage wins at last year’s Tour de France, and his victory at the Vuelta in 2011, he has achieved the first item on most top sprinters’ to-do lists; extending his repertoire to include the points jersey here or at the Tour is for the future.
This was by no means a straightforward win. With a right-angle bend just 270 metres from the finish line the same as Friday night’s team time trial but taken from the opposite direction Kittel needed to be one of the first through the corner to be in a good position. Instead, after a chaotic build-up to the sprint, with no team in control, he was a dozen places back in the field and had to come from behind.
Giro d’Italia, day three. Armagh to Dublin, via Keady, Forkhill, Castlebellingham, Balbriggan and Swords, and the last stage in Ireland before everyone jets off back to Italy. You can find today’s route in full here, but in profile it looks something like this:
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