Lagutin completes Katusha's Grand Tour hat trick

Sergey Lagutin gave his Katusha team its third Grand Tour stage win of the season - one in each the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and now the Vuelta a España thanks to the 35-year-old Russian.

The hat trick is something only four other WorldTour teams have accomplished - Etixx-Quickstep, IAM Cycling, Orica-BikeExchange and Team Sky - and the first Grand Tour stage win of Lagutin's career at the ripe old age of 35.

It comes after the Giro d'Italia stage win by Rein Taaramäe and the Tour de France stage victory by Ilnur Zakarin.

Lagutin was part of an 11-rider breakaway on the 181.5km stage 8 through the pan flat Duero basin as the peloton chose to have a quiet day and let the move get 10 minutes before the road tilted severely upwards for the 8km ascent of the Alto de la Camperona.

"Finally, the dream came true. I was dreaming about this since I was little, about winning a stage in a Grand Tour like the Vuelta. Now it has happened and I still can't believe it has happened to me," Lagutin said. "I'm 35 years old and in some ways, I was thinking this was probably it, but I hope this makes things start all over for me."

Lagutin started out his cycling career under the banner of Uzbekistan and was the U23 world champion and a seven-time national champion for that country, but after his Vacansoleil team folded he opted to sign for RusVelo and was encouraged to change his citizenship to Russian.

He signed with Katusha in 2015 and came into the Vuelta a Espana with free reign in the absence of any teammates with overall classification ambitions.

"Without a big leader here we start with new goals and we're all free to try something for ourselves when we see the opportunity. We are still competitive and looking forward in this Vuelta. I will be happy and proud of this stage win for the rest of my life. This win gives me more confidence and for sure I will look for other stages. We've just started – we have another two weeks ahead of us," Lagutin said.

His victory came about when he followed his breakaway companions - Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) and Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Velo) who were chipping away at fellow-Katusha teammate Jhonatan Restrepo's slim lead coming into the final two kilometers. When Restrepo was caught with 1600m to go, Lagutin bided his time and waited to make his move until the very last moment.

"Honestly, with two kilometres to go when the French riders began attacking and I was able to follow them without giving everything, I had the confidence. Thanks to the sports directors Xavier Florencio he was telling me not to panic and save my legs. That's what I did and we deserved that victory," Lagutin said.

He credited the attack from Restrepo for helping him get the win.

"We kind of planned our move on the climb. I could see that Restrepo was excited when he attacked and he showed he had good legs. I was able to sit in the wheel of the breakaway, not work and save my energy. All the little things came together for us."

Thanks to his efforts, Lagutin earned the white and blue polka dot jersey of mountains classification leader and hopes to keep the jersey for a few days.

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