The third stage of The Tour of Britain proved to be another successful one for the Quick Step team. Luca Paolini beat T-Mobile's Bram Schmitz and eight other breakaway companions to take the win, while Nick Nuyens fended off all attempts by Michael Blaudzun (Team CSC) plus his other rivals to retain his race lead.
The stage was on paper the most difficult of the race with the route from Leeds to Sheffield taking in the category two climbs of Cow and Calf and Oxenhope before the twin peaks of the first category Holme Moss and Snake Pass.
Stage winner Paolini was part of a 13-man move which went clear inside the first 10 kilometres and stayed clear for the day, while behind world time trial champion Michael Rogers and the rest of the Quick Step team neutralised all attacks on the yellow jersey of Nick Nuyens.
The decisive break split on the final climb with Paolini, Schmitz, Jose Luis Martinez Jimenez and Barloworld-Valsir's Ryan Cox going clear before regrouping again before the finish. As the group again split, Paolini and Schmitz fought out the win between them before British road race champion Russell Downing took third.
1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic
2 Bram Schmitz (Ned) T-Mobile
3 Russel Downing (GBr) Recycling.co.uk