A day after being given the chance to sprint for the team on stage 2 of the Tour Colombia 2.1 – and finishing third – UAE Team Emirates' Sebastian Molano took advantage of a second opportunity to win stage 3 of the race on Thursday after teammate Fernando Gaviria quit the race due to sickness.
Towards the end of the second stage on Wednesday, Gaviria had told Molano that he wasn't feeling good, and the Colombian was able to sprint to an impressive third place in La Ceja behind winner Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Team Illuminate's Martin Laas.
However, with Gaviria deciding not to start Thursday's third stage due to what had been diagnosed as a respiratory infection, Molano grabbed the opportunity to try again for a stage victory with both hands, winning in Llanogrande ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Diego Ochoa (Manzana Postobon) after most of the rest of the sprinters had been dropped on the stage's climbs.
The 24-year-old's win now puts him in the yellow points jersey with three days left to race.
"It was a beautiful moment," Molano said on his team's website. "To get my first win with my new team and doing so here in Colombia is fantastic.
"Gaviria, unfortunately, was not well. I had a big responsibility and I was able to repay the enormous trust given to me by the team.
"I felt great all day, my legs were good on the climbs, and I found myself safely in the finishing straight for the sprint," he added. "The work done by my teammates to get me there was perfect all day, and I want to thank them for keeping me going throughout the stage."
Molano has one more opportunity to take another stage win, and to perhaps wrap up the points classification, on Friday's 144km fourth stage around Medellin, before a lumpier fifth stage on Saturday and a tough summit finish on Sunday's final stage.
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