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Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2017: Stage 3

We have moved from Dubai to Valencia! Instead of the desert winds, we are taking on 163 km from Canals to Riba-Roja de Turia.

It is a rolling stage today, with one big bump near the middle. Not enough to be a ranked climb, though. And we expect a sprint finish.

The stage has started and we have already had multiple escape attempts quite early on. None has yet been successful.

 

A day for the sprinters today at #VCV2017 (Canals - Riba-Roja de Túria, 161 kilometers). https://t.co/IdzMlS43EA

@quickstepteam Fri, 3rd Feb 2017 11:35:02

Yesterday's stage two ended with a dramatic solo win for Tony Martin. The World time trial champion brought in his first win for his new team, Katusha-Alpecin.

 

And here our race report from yesterday's stage.

 

Here the top five in GC. You will remember that BMC won the team time trial in stage one.

1 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)

2 Manuel Senni (BMC)

3 Ben Hermans (BMC)

4 David Lopez (Sky)

5 Nicolas Roche (BMC)

Johann Van Zyl (Dimension Data) leads the mountain classification, and with no ranked cimb today, he will hold on to it another day. Cyril Gautier (AG2R) leads both the sprint and combined rankings, with Manuel Senni (BMC) best young rider. BMC is top team.

A group of four got away after 6 km: Alexis Gourgeard (AG2R), Aitor Gonzalez (Euskadi Basque Country), Daniel Lopez (Burgos-BH) and Tyler Williams (Israel Cycling Academy).

 

They are being chased by Julio Amores (Inteja Dominican) and Ben Perry (Israel Cycling Academy). The four leaders are at 1:45, with these two 20 seconds down.

Amores and Perry have caught the leaders, but Lopez seems to be out of the group now. That gives us five in the lead with a gap of 3:30 after 20 km.

 

Lopez is 20 seconds behind the break group, after 24 km.

 

We were expecting some dramatic action and climbs in Dubai today, but the wind and blowing sands put an end to that. The stage was first shortened and then ultimately cancelled before a single KM could be ridden.

 

Lopez has caught up with the lead group and has taken the first intermediate sprint, ahead of Perry and Williams.

 

Here is what Tony Martin had to say on his website about his win yesterday in Stage 2: "From our training camp I especially knew the final climb quite well and knew where I had to attack. In the finale I took full risk on the descent. Either the barrier or the victory ;-) I know that I can descent well even in the rain. I had full trust in our material and it paid off. The win is very satisfying and confirmation that I took the right step with my team change. I dedicate it to the team,which perfectly supported me this winter."

126km remaining from 163km

The six riders up front now have 4 minutes on the field.

Fisticuffs! Fights! They don't have any place in pro cycling, right? Well maybe not, but they are there anyway. Take a look at what happens when riders attack.

The decision to cancel today's Dubai stage was apparently a relatively easy and unanimous one. The idea of replacing it with an improvised short time trial was not possible.

 

With 40 km down, about one-quarter of the stage, the break group has 3:40 over the peloton, which is led by Movistar and Orica-Scott.

 

There seems to be no end to some things. The UK Anti-Doping agency may well face questions into its earlier investigation of the Linda McCartney team. 

 

As we said, it was pretty much a unanimous decision to cancel today's Dubai stage.

 

Cofidis and BMC have moved to the head of the field and brought the gap down to 2:32.

 

98km remaining from 163km

 The gap continues to drop and is now at only 2:05.

Just to add some more controversy and doping into your day: A Dutch court won't pull Thomas Dekker's doping-confession book from the market. 

 

Only two minutes left with 90 km to go. Cofidis is leading the charge because they want a sprint finish. But it really is very very early to bring things back together.

 

Meanwhile, over in the Etoile de Besseges, there is a huge 22 rider break.

 

The day started out with racing Down Under, as Luke Rowe (Sky) won stage 2 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour 

 

Who is the best sprinter so far this year, and who will be the best by the end of the year -- these and more subjects are under discussion in our most recent podcast. 

 

Yesterday was a big day for German cycling. Tony Martin won here and John Degenkolb won in Dubai, whilst MarcelKittel retained his race lead.

A big day too for Katusha, as Alexander Kristoff won in Etoile de Besseges almost simultaneously with Martin.

 

The peloton has splintered into numerous groups, and the gap has dropped to 1:27. And yes the wind is acting up here. 

 

But at least there is lovely sunshine here, and no sandstorms!

 

57km remaining from 163km

The gap has now dropped to under a minute, at 50 seconds. But there is still a long way to go to the finish line.

 

48 km and only 30 seconds. And we are down to only five riders in the lead group. 

 

119km remaining from 163km

Looks like we are down to only 4 in the lead group now, and only 28 seconds. 

 

No, it is five. Amores of Inteja Dominican seems to have dropped somewhere along the way.

 

Either the peloton realized they are getting too close too soon, or the break group has found its second wind. The gap is again around 50 seconds.

 

There was a lot of wind earlier, but it looks relatively calm now. The peloton is relatively bunched up.

 

Cofidis is riding today for Nacer Bouhanni, as the feisty sprinter is looking for his first season win.

 

We actually have three groups here. The five leaders re 48 seconds ahead of the yellow jersey group and another peloton is 1:45 back.

 

Bryan Couquard (Direct Energie)  is another candidate for a sprint win here today.

 

34 km and 49 seconds, and we are getting some attacks out of the field.

 

One of the attackers is Jos van Eden of LottoNL-Jumbo. He and his companion are quickly moving up to the break group.

 

Elmar Reinders (Roompot) and Van Emden have now joined the leaders.

 

Lopez  pays tribute to the pace and has to drop from the lead group.

 

26km remaining from 163km

Van Emden takes off from the lead group, looking perhaps to solo in as Martin did yesterday.

 

That causes everyone else to pick up the speed a notch or two.

 

Van Emden is not Tony Martin, but he is a good time trialist. Good enough to give a scare to the peloton, who doesn't really want to let anyone go again.

 

Van Emden is a former Dutch national time trial champion and has won a number of time trials.

 

A sharp 180 degree turn for the peloton and fortunately everyone makes it through safely.

 

16 km. Van Emden has 16 seconds on the former break grou, with the field not much further back.

 

It is not to be. The large field now has all the escapees, including Van Emden, in its sights, and it won't be long now. 13 km to go.

 

Van Emden is of course not giving up, though!

 

Igor Merino of the Burgos team jumps from the peloton in pursuit of Van Emden.

 

All together again with 11 km to go.

 

Direkt Energie gathering near the front. Dimension Data is also getting together on the side.

 

Three riders attacj,

 

7km remaining from 163km

But they are caught again quickly.

 

With 5 km, another rider tries to get away, someone one from Direct Energie.

 

He too is caught. 3 km to go.

 

Martin leads the Katusha train to the front.

 

Inside the last km, a QuickStep rider takes off.

 

He s caught with 400 to go.

 

Direct Energie and Bouahnni go head to head to the finish line.

 

Not Direct Energie but Magnus Cort of Orica-Scott, who looks to have taken it by a whisker. Couquard third.

 

Our preliminary top ten: 

1 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott 3:49:03

2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits

3 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie

4 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors

5 Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Spain

6 Samuel Caldeira (Por) W52/FC Porto

7 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale

8 Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy

9 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team

10 Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin

Van Avermaet successfully defends his leader's jersey.

 

General classification after stage 3

1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 9:17:13

2 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team

3 Manuel Senni (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:07

4 David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:28

5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:00:44

6 David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:48

7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:49

8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:00

9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:54

10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:56

 

Here's another look at how things went down today.

 

Direct Energie and Cofidis worked hardest in setting up the sprint. Cort didn't have the big lead-up train, but tagged along behind the others. He let Couquard and Bouhanni go, then turned on his power. Couquard got left behind, and once Cort took the lead Bouhanni was unable to catch him. 

 

Upon looking at the finish again, it seems that Bouhanni had to come from pretty far back and tried his best to get up to the front, but was unable to power his way past the very strong Cort.

 

Thanks for joining us today!

 

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