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Itzulia Basque Country stage 3 – Live coverage


Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 3 of Itzulia Basque Country. The riders are on the startline and we're about to head out through the neutralized zone.  It's an uphill finish today so expect the GC candidates to shine as we head out from Amurrio and head towards the finish in Laudio. 

Here's how things stand on GC heading into the stage.

Roglic on the front and in the leaders jersey. It must feel like Groundhog day for most of his rivals but today could see some real fireworks at the finish. The final climb is short but sharp and has pitches over 11 per cent, so we're going to see attacks from the likes of Pogacar, Yates, and of course the race leader. We're hearing that Richard Carapaz, who fell yesterday, was cleared to start and is in the peloton this afternoon. 

It's up and down all day and we're likely going to see a break go from the gun as soon as the flag drops, which should be any minute now.

5km into the stage and we've seen a few attacks but nothing has managed to stick just yet.

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In other news, Fabio Jakobsen is set to return to racing next week at the Tour of Turkey. He's been out of action since last August and that awful incident at the Tour of Poland but after a long recovery he's ready to race again. You can read about that right here.

Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

(Image credit: Deceuninck – Quick-Step Cycling Team)

Meanwhile, over in Belgium, the Groupama FDJ team didn't start Scheldeprijs this morning due to a positive COVID-19 case. The full story on that, is right here.

Arnaud Demare and his Groupama-FDJ teammates

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Back to this race and we've 157km to go and still no confirmed break from the peloton. We've four climbs on the menu today, including the final ascent to the line, but the first third cat climb is coming up in just a handful of kilometers from now.

And we're onto the Altube climb. Jumbo Visma will want to have a say in the make-up of the break and it's little wonder they're on the front right now.

Over the first climb of the day and still no break from the main field. 150km to go. 

Six riders have formed a group off the front of the peloton. Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck), Theo Delacroix (Interlarché), Larry Warbasse (AG2R), Oier Lazkano (Caja Rural), Daniel Navarro (Burgos), and Gotzon Martin (Euskaltel).

141km to go and the six leaders have started to build a healthy lead over the bunch. They have just over two minutes while there's a lone chaser at 34 seconds, Felix Gall (DSM). It's going to be tough to close that gap on his own because the six leaders won't wait for him. 


The leaders: Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck), Theo Delacroix (Interlarché), Larry Warbasse (AG2R), Oier Lazkano (Caja Rural), Daniel Navarro (Burgos), and Gotzon Martin (Euskaltel) have over two minutes on the peloton with 138km to go.

135km to go.

He's made it, so now we have seven leaders up the road with Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck), Theo Delacroix (Interlarché), Larry Warbasse (AG2R), Oier Lazkano (Caja Rural), Daniel Navarro (Burgos), and Gotzon Martin (Euskaltel) joined by Felix Gall (DSM). 

The seven leaders have 3'32 over the peloton, with Jumbo Visma setting the tempo on the front.

To be fair there's some decent firepower in that break. Daniel Navarro is the most experienced rider in the move with a wealth of experience under his belt. He turned prob back in 2005 with Liberty, so is the same generation as Contador, LL Sanchez, and a very young Koen de Kort. Navarro has raced for the likes of Cofidis, Astana, Saxo, Katusha and ISN but is now at Burgos BH at the grand old age of 37. He's won stages in the Vuelta, the Dauphine and cracked the top ten in the TDF. 

By comparison Mikkel Frølich Honoré is 24 but he's already notched up a win this season with a stage in Coppi e Bartali. He's typically really strong against the clock but has made the transition from Conti to WorldTour look almost seamless in the last couple of years.

Felix Gall, the last rider to make the break is just 23, but has been with the DSM development team since 2017. The Austrian has had some very good results but he only managed 10 racing days last year so this is almost like his first year at WorldTour. He's never actually finished a WT race but he's riding well today and is a well-deserved member of the break.

Larry Warbasse is in the break too, and the 30-year-old is down to race the Giro later this year. His team haven't had a great start to the year so far, with just one win but Warbasse has a habit of picking the right moves, so perhaps today will be his day. One of the best climbers in the break, if not the best. He's not taken a win since 2017 and would love to end that search today in a WorldTour race.

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121km to go

A shade over 120km to go and the seven leaders are holding their 3'20 gap over the peloton. They've really not been allowed to extend their advantage. Roglic clearly has the confidence to go for another stage win today on a climb that's similar to the finale at Le Fleche Wallonne.

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4'10 now for the leaders with 112km to go, so they're slowing pulling out larger lead over the peloton. 

We have our first result of the day over in Belgium with Lorena Wiebes winning the first Scheldeprijs Women.

Here's our report and results from said race.

Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM)

(Image credit: Team DSM)

Six minutes now for our seven out front. This is starting to get interesting, although there's still over 100km to go. With the climb they have at the finish they probably need around two minutes, maybe more, if they want to stand a chance of winning. That final climb is a brute with pitches around 20 per cent. 

Inside the final 100km of the race and the seven leaders continue to work well together. There's a lot of horsepower in this move and it will be interesting to see which other teams offer a hand to Jumbo Visma as they look to lead a chase. 

Seven minutes for the seven leaders with 96km to go. It looks like Jumbo Visma are trying to entice some more help from their rivals.

A reminder of the GC heading into today's stage. 

77km to go

77km to go and the gap is at 5'56 as the break head through the feedzone. 

The road are up and down all day but right now it's EF-Education Nippo who are leading the chase with one rider on the front of the peloton. They're looking to set up Higuita who should go well on a finish like the one that we have today. 

 Julien Bernard is at the back of the bunch and it looks like he has a problem with his gears. He might need to stop.

The chase is starting to become a bit more organised and what was a seven minute lead is now down to 5'45 with 74km to go. A couple of the riders in the break are calling for their team cars as we see DSM move up for their neo pro in the break.

The one EF rider on the front has now been joined by almost all of ISN who are going to try and set up Michael Woods for the finish. Again, that final climb really suits him. 

BikeExchange have also joined the party on the front of the peloton and the leaders quickly lose another ten seconds in just a kilometer or so. 

The peloton ease up to allow some riders to drop back to the cars and/or take comfort break. The gap to the break though is at 5'15 with 64km to go.

A reminder of the riders in the break: Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck), Theo Delacroix (Interlarché), Larry Warbasse (AG2R), Oier Lazkano (Caja Rural), Daniel Navarro (Burgos), and Gotzon Martin (Euskaltel) and Felix Gall (DSM). They're in the long valley now and heading into the final 60km with two climbs still to come.

The bunch are strung out though, with a rider from EF Education Nippo back on the front and controlling the pace. There's no let up at all.

Pello Bilbao and Martin are near the back of the field right now but they're slowly moving up after dropping back to their team cars. Both riders could certainly feature on the last climb of the day.

Martin is already three minutes down after losing time yesterday. He might even be able to attack on the penultimate climb, given that he's not a threat on GC.

Bahrain have moved their entire team to the front too. They have Pello Bilbao in tenth on GC as another team, Groupama push to the front as well. They have Gaudu, who could also try and make a move in the final. It might come down to who can follow Roglic and Pogacar but Gaudu shouldn't be too far away from them given how he's been riding so far in this year's race.

LIVRONSURDROME FRANCE FEBRUARY 27 Arrival David Gaudu of France and Team Groupama FDJ Celebration Clment Champoussin of France and AG2R Citron Team during the 21st FaunArdche Classic 2021 a 1713km race from GuilherandGranges to GuilherandGranges bouclesclassic BDA21 on February 27 2021 in LivronsurDrome France Photo by Bruno BadeGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Almost three minutes have been chipped off the break's lead with the gap down to 4'26 with 54km to go.

It's now almost impossible to imagine the break having any hope at this point, as there are simply too many teams leading the chase with ISN, Jumbo, Bahrain, BikeExchange, and Groupama all involved. 

Roglic and his team have been smart, and only committed one rider to the chase while the rest of the squad sit back and protect the race leader. They're going to face a wave of attacks in the last 15km of racing. 

50km to go

50km to go and the gap is at 4'09.

The gap continues to tumble, and it's under four minutes for the first time. These leaders had seven minutes, just over in fact, about 30km ago but they've been losing time ever since. There are a few riders in that lead move who starting to miss turns too, and a few shoulders are starting to rock. 

Movistar, who did so much work yesterday, but came away with nothing have begun to move up as well. The Valverde of old would have been a major contender for today's stage but it's hard to see him really having the gas to make a difference today. He did win the GP Indurain though recently, so the 40-year-old isn't finished just yet.

Right now Movistar are lined out on one side of the road, while BikeExchange take the other and both teams are continuing with the chase. The break now have 3'30 with 44km to go. Two climbs remaining.

Gotzon Martin Sanz is at the back of the group and he just allows the wheel to open up. That forces him to make a big effort to come back but we still have seven leaders out front. The gap continues to drop though. It's at 3'18 with 40km to go.

To be fair, Mikkel Honoré still looks fresh and he gets so aero on his road bike that it looks like he could go another 100km at this point. 

The seven leaders are climbing again, although its an uncategorized climb. Back in the bunch and we've not seen anything from Ineos at this point. They'll be there on those final climbs though, that's for sure.

Howes is on the front now for EF as the American team continue to wind up the speed with 34km to go. They're racing at full tilt towards the penultimate climb of the stage. 

Maximilian Schachmann is moving up as well for Bora. He likes power climbs but he has a strong turn of speed too, and will be in the mix come that final brutal ascent to the line. 

There's a bit of a split near the back of the bunch with about 15 riders losing contact briefly but it's all back together. 

33km to and the gap is down to 2'10. The riders out front will get caught on the second cat climb that's coming up. 

After the second last climb we have a short but technical descent before the road once more points upwards for the final run to the line. 

Bahrain hit the front with 32km to go and the race for position starts now as we head onto tighter roads. 

Deceuninck-QuickStep move their car up to the break for the final time. We're back on wider roads but the pace remains high as we see Caicedo take a pull on the front, as Ineos finally make a play and bring Yates up with Tao Geoghegan Hart alongside him. The 2020 Giro winner is still building towards the Tour but lost over nine minutes yesterday after working for his team leader. 

Oier Lazkano has attacked from the break with 26km to go. We have an intermediate sprint coming up. 

Oier Lazkano has 18 seconds on the rest of the break and 1'36 over the peloton. 24km to go.

24km to go

Oier Lazkano is about 10km from the penultimate climb as Ben Swift sets the pace on the front of the peloton.

33 seconds for Oier Lazkano, and he's looking good. He's even keeping the peloton at bay but there's still two climbs to come.

21km to go

Groupama take over at the front of the peloton as we see a few riders starting to struggle at the back of the bunch. 21km to go and Roglic and Higuita are riding side by side a few riders back in the pack.

Oier Lazkano from Caja Rural still has 32 seconds on the chase group and 1'19 over the bunch as Ben Swift takes another long turn on the front.

Gaudu has his team setting the pace now and it looks like a few GC riders are being squeezed out. 

Can't see anyone from Movistar or Astana near the front at the moment. It's all Ineos, Groupama, AG2R and BikeExchange. 

Up the road and Oier Lazkano is on a long and slightly uphill drag and this is going to really hurt. 

This uncategorized ascent is about 2.5km in length and Oier Lazkano starts it with 1'02 over the peloton. 

Eddie Dunbar is near the front as well. The Irishman is there to help Yates out on the final climb but he's looking comfortable too right now. 

18km to go

18km to go and the gap to Oier Lazkano is 52 seconds as we see De Gendt losing contact with the back of the peloton.

BikeExchange hit the front now and Oier Lazkano only has 45 seconds left. He might make it over this climb. 

The Caja Rural rider is really starting to struggle as the bunch take back another five seconds. 

17km to go and the rest of the break are about to be caught. So that'll leave just Oier Lazkano clear. 

Oier Lazkano is on the rapid descent towards the penultimate climb that starts with 12km to go.

Ineos are leading the chase right now and five of the original break are about to be caught. 14.8km to go.

Honore has gone clear though, so he's chasing down Oier Lazkano.

Oier Lazkano only has 23 seconds on the peloton with 14km to go. 

It's Michael Woods' team who are leading the peloton now as the road flattens out before this penultimate climb. 

And here come Movistar. They're really upped the pace as we start to climb but Groupama respond and Honore is caught. Oier Lazkano only has 10 seconds.

It looks like Gaudu is second wheel, which is really close to the front. 

ISN have three riders on the front and Movistar are just behind him as the peloton lines out and Oier Lazkano is caught. 11.8k to go and we're on the climb proper now.

We're down to about 60 riders but we'll lose at least half of that number by the time we reach the top with Bevin on the front at the moment.

Landa is on Roglic's wheel. 

Gaudu is without a teammate but is still second wheel. He looks really confident.

Pogacar is about 15 riders back at the moment but no attacks just yet on this climb with 1.1km to go until we hit this summit.

Mollema has been dropped. 

Over the top of the climb and a rider almost takes it too far on the first corner. He just about keeps it together but that was really close. 

9km to go

This descent is so, so rapid. 

Astana are tearing down the descent with Fuglsang in second wheel. 

It looks like Woods is third.

Fraile is doing all the damage on the front right now with the climb to the line set to start in about 3.5km.

Tight corner coming up...

And they all make it around safely. 6.1km to go.

Woods has his team back on the front with 5.2km to go with Bevin once more on the  front.

There's a gap here and Higuita has a gap but Kelderman is down. Again. He has no luck at all.

Cort is with Huigita and they have a few seconds with two more riders. Woods was down too in that fall. 

Kelderman is out. Helmet off. He's done.

Cort, Huigita, Carapaz and one other rider have 6 seconds with 3.3km to go.

Cort is burying himself for his leader. 

Higuita has attacked with Carapaz and a rider from AG2R. 

We're climbing and UAE are leading the chase.

Higuita is out of the saddle but it's coming back together. 

Pogacar attacks with 2.7km to go.

Carapaz and Roglic match him.

 Now Carapaz attacks and he's clear with 2.5km to go.

Roglic is being forced to chase but then Pogacar comes through. 

20 percent now.

Carapaz leads Roglic and Pogacar with the rest of the group following. The gap is only about 4 seconds. 

Pogacar goes again.

Yates, Chaves, Landa, all there.

Carapaz caught with 2.1km to go and Pogacar attacks with Roglic on his wheel. 

These two are clear. 

Carthy is trying to chase now with the gap at about 5 seconds. 

We have two leaders and then a bunch of about 12 riders but the gap is only going out. 

Pogacar versus Roglic with 1.7km to go. Landa is leading the chase now.

And now Yates attacks and he comes along with Landa and one other rider.

We have a group of five about two seconds clear. 

Landa ups the pace. 1.5km to go.

Pogacar again with 1.5km to go and Roglic follows.

This is the big one from the Tour winner. The gap is huge this time.

Roglic takes a big turn but Pogacar is with him and several others are coming back slowly. 

Gaudu makes it three. Then Valverde and Yates. 

960m and Gaudu attacks but Pogacar brings him back.

Six leaders with 600m to go. Valverde in the sprint?

Roglic attacks.

He's gone and Valverde cracks.

Roglic versus Pogacar in the sprint.

Pogacar wins, Rolgic second and Valverde in third. 

Pogacar simply had the smarter sprint and hit the front with about 150m to go knowing that he wasn't going to be overtaken on the downhill section. We have a real battle on our hands for the GC now.

Yates was fourth, with Gaudu and Landa completing the top six. It means that Roglic leads on GC with Pogacar at 20 seconds and McNulty a further ten seconds back.

Here's our brief report and results from today's stage. 

Here's the new GC. 

And here's a picture of the sprint.

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) wins stage 3 of the 2021 Itzulia Basque Country

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

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