26 August 2013

Vuelta a España 2013 Stage 3: Vigo to Mirador de Lobeira

Yesterday La Vuelta got off to a rather violent start with the climb of taking the last 11 km and proving a real test that found some of the GC contenders lacking. But there was a breakaway that went from the off which started with Greg Henderson (OGE) going about 10m before 0km. He was joined by Alex Rasmussen (GAR) and Francisco Aramendia of Caja Royal (CJR) and the three were to stay away until the final climb.

Movistar took up the pace for the peleton at the start of the climb and set a tempo that nobody looked capable of challenging. That was until Amets Txurruka (CJR) formerly of Euskaltel-Euskadi put in a little bit of a dig, but José Herada (MOV) just kept his pace at the front of the group and brought it all back together.

Sammy Sanchez (EUS) was the first of the big GC contenders to be dropped out of the back. Sky's Sergio Henao was another who suffered with more than 4km to go.

With 1.5km to go Leopold Konig of NetApp-Endura (TNE) went on the attack. With this attack, Janez Brajkovič (AST) who had been holding on to the tail of the peleton finally popped out the back. He eventually ended 51 seconds behind the stage winner, dropping to 16th overall.

Daniel Moreno (KAT) and Nico Roche (TST) launched the counter attack followed by Dominco Pozzavivo (AGM) and caught Konig at the Flame Rouge. Then in the climb towards the finish Roche made a bid for the line and nobody was able to keep up with him. It completes the father-son set of Grand Tour stage wins as his father Stephen never managed to three in the Tour de France and two in the Giro d'Italia, but had only taken part in one Vuelta towards the end of his career. Moreno was second and Pozzavivo third.

Stephen Roche in combination jersey

Alejandro Valverde (MOV) it was who lead the peleton across the line, though there were gaps and only Diego Ulisso (LAM) and Jaoquin Rodriguez (KAT) finished on the same time, 2 seconds ahead of a group of 16 lead by Ivan Basso (CAN), Bauke Mollema (BEL) and Rigoberto Uran (SKY), Giro Champion Vincenzo Nibali (AST) and the stage winner's cousin Dan Martin (GRS) were also in that group. Laurens Ten Dam (BEL) was in a quartet at 21 seconds and Michele Scarponi (LAM) at 27 seconds.

Nibali's performance was good enough to lift him into the red jersey after his team mate Brajkovič, 8 seconds ahead of Roche. Roche possesses the Green Point Jersey, Blue Mountain Jersey (being worn by Daniel Moreno) and like his father had worn in Tour the all around White Jersey (worn today by Alejandro Valverde).

Henao finished 2'41" back, so it looks like Uran sitting 5th overall is now the de facto team leader of Sky. Samuel Sanchez finished in the same time paced by three team mates leaving just Mikel Nieve up with the leaders in the Basque team's farewell to Grand Tours.

Today's stage starts in Vigo which La Vuelta passed through yesterday, but instead of heading straight to Pontevedra (yesterday's start town) after crossing the bridge over the Estreito de Rande takes a detour round most of the headland before returning to yesterday's start town. From where it continues to hug the coast the whole way around the next headland before heading inland, though not going up anything steep this time.

The loop inland comes across the first intermediate sprint at A Escusa (Ribadumia) before circling around the finish town before returning to the coast at the town of Vilagarcia de Arousa, where once again the riders will hug the coast until they take a turn out to sea, and visit the island of Ria de Arosa, where the second intermediate sprint takes place. They take another shorter loop before heading for home and the only real ramp of the day comes at the line.

There is a 3rd category climb over the last 4km kicking up at the end of 184.8km of racing. It should not be enough of a kick to dislodge all the sprinters but some might suffer because of the efforts of today. But it should produce a bunch sprint even if not quite a straight forward as they may expect.

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