Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2018: Stage 3
January 1 - February 4, Benitatxell, Spain, Road - 2.1
Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 3 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
2018 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana start list
2018 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana race preview
Stage 1 Report: Danny van Poppel sprints to victory
Stage 2 Report: Valverde wins breakaway sprint to take overall lead
The rain in Spain was falling mainly on the roads of Valencia this morning, flooding parts of the 30km TTT route between Benitatxell and Calpe.
As a consequence, the race judges have decided that the results will not count for the overall classification.
As we join the action, the early teams have started their race, while the WorldTour teams will start later on in the afternoon.
Because the stage will not count for the overall classification, stage 2 winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will keep the overall race lead and the yellow jersey going into Saturday's key mountain stage.
Valverde leads Luis Leon Sanchez by 4 seconds, with his Astana teammate Jakob Fuglsang third at 6 seconds. Wout Poels (Team Sky) is fourth at 29 seconds.
To read our full stage report and see the photo gallery from stage 2, click here.
The Nippo -Vini Fantini team is next to start under the very grey skies.
The organisers have wisely covered the start ramp in a carpet-like material to avoid anyone slipping and crashing as they roll off.
Other teams are warming up under cover, though it seems space is tight for some.
Valverde will no doubt be happy with the TTT being neutralised for GC. He leads many of his bigger rivals by 29 seconds. That could be enough to secure overall victory on Sunday if he can handle the climb to Cocentaina.
We can see that the BMC is warming-up in what looks like a mechanic's garage. Teams have taken over what ever space they can find near the start area.
Sport Vlaanderen are setting off for their ride.
The clouds are actually lifting but the roads remain wet.
It is just 8C in Valencia, with strong winds blowing.
Here comes the first team at the finish, with Team Euskadi finishing on the tail of the Inteja Domenican team.
Alberto Contador's Polartec team finish next. Well bring the times as soon as possible.
We can see Dimension Data out on the road. The roads are actually drying out and so the decision to neutralise the GC times may have been premature.
Dimension Data are using TT bikes but it seems others, including Cofidis, have opted to ride on their road bikes for safety reasons.
Education First-Drapac have finished.
Sep Vanmarcke was keen not to take any risks before the start.
Nippo-Vini Fantini is next in with a time of 29:56.
That's the fastest so far.
Nippo-Vini Fantini have recently ended a training camp in Calpe and so trained on the roads. They would no doubt to win the stage after being overlooked for a wild card place for the Giro d'Italia.
Next off is Katusha-Alpecin. They're on TT bikes. Will they go for it?
Caja Rural set a time of 31:07.
The roads are now dry in parts due to the strong wind.
Burgos-BH finish in 30:04. however it depends on their fifth rider to finish.
Here come Gasprom-Rusvelo. They're fast but their fifth rider is struggling to stay on the line.
They set 29:00.
The AG2R team have opted for the TT bikes but LottoNL went with road bikes.
BMC is also off.
They are using TT bikes and could be looking to win.
BMC are going hard but their technique is not perfect as they avoid huge risks.
CCC Sprandi finish fast, setting 28:55.
All times are approximate due to a lack of clear timing by the race organiser.
Due to seven-rider teams, times are taken on the fourth rider at the finish.
BMC are using a single pace line strategy, with each riding dropping off the front after doing their turn.
The twisting course and seven-rider teams make it impossible to use a double-line strategy to today.
Movistar is off, with Valverde riding in the yellow jersey. He smiles to the camera before leading off his teammates.
CCC Sprandli are confirmed as fastest so far in 28:55.
All the teams are on the course but there's little info on intermediate times and the ride of Team Sky.
BMC is diving down the coast road, giving a view of the snow-covered mountains that will be climbed tomorrow.
Bahrian-Merida finish in a time of 30:19. No risks for them today.
Katusha-Alpecin is fast, setting 29:01.
The slightly uphill finish meant they finished a few seconds slower than CCC Sprandi.
BMC is fastest at the 12km point, setting 13:43.
We will see how they perform in the second part of the course.
Mitchelton-Scott have also avoided risks and finish together.
Team Sky seem to have also opted for a conservative race strategy but BMC are not holding back.
We have some traffic at the finish as AG2R catch LottoNL at the finish.
AG2R set 28:30 but BMC look set to beat them.
The BMC squad is packed with rouleur riders.
BMC smash it, setting 27:25.
BMC proved they have their TTT technique dialled in. They beat AG2R by 1:12.
There are only 3 teams left to finish now.
Team Sky are next in.
They clearly didn't want to take any risks today and save their legs for the weekend's decisive stages. Most of the riders were racing in leg warmers.
Astana are due in after the British super team and can almost see them up the road.
Sky set a very slow time. Astana finishes on their tails and set 28:26.
The two teams actually cross the line together.
Team Sky will have a time that is three minutes slower.
Just Movistar are still to finish but seem unlikely to trouble BMC.
The US WorldTour team is a TTT specialist after winning other stages and the World TTT title.
Movistar is about to finish on largely dry roads.
Perhaps the organisers acted too quickly by neutralising the GC after the TTT. They could have waited until the 30 minutes before the start of the TTT and then decide.
Movistar finish and set 29:49. That's not a threat to BMC but Valverde will keep the leader's yellow jersey.
BMC are confirmed as stage winners.
BMC set a time of 27:25 for the 23.2km route. That was an average speed of 51km/h.
BMC did not seem to take too many risks but their well-practiced technique allowed them to dominate.
Astana finished second at 1:08, with AG2R at 1:12.
Stefan Küng, Brent Bookwalter, Greg Van Avermaet, Alessandro De Marchi, Kilian Frankiny, Jurgen Roelandts and Michael Schar made up the BMC team and are about to climb on the podium as stage winners.
This is the top ten result for the TTT:
1 BMC Racing Team 0:27:25
2 Astana Pro Team 0:01:08
3 AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:12
4 CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:01:36
6 Katusha-Alpecin 0:01:43
7 Euskadi-Murias 0:01:46
8 Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:01:54
9 Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:02:13
10 Direct Energie 0:02:14
BMC take the flowers and the cheers from the crowd on the podium.
They also got to open the champagne or Spanish Cava in celebration.
With the GC times neutralised due to the bad weather in the morning, Alessandro Valverde stays in yellow.
He leads Luis Leon Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) by four and six seconds respectively.
Wout Poels (Team Sky) is fourth overall at 29 seconds, with a group of riders on the same time as the Dutchman.
Greg van Avermaet was happy to celebrate another win with his teammates.
"For us (neutralising the GC) didn’t change things for us. We prepared for the team time trial as good as possible and we came here with the objective to win the team team time trial," he said.
Regarding the neutralisation of the GC e added: "It was a bit hard to make a good decision because it was raining a lot in the morning but I think when it dried up everyone just kept it safe and just go as fast as possible to the line."
"We’re not really here for GC so the most important was the stage win. We have it and so we’re pretty happy."
Valverde pulled on the leader's yellow jersey on the podium after a relaxed day.
He understandably agreed with the decision to neutralise the GC standings due to the heavy rain.
"I think with how the weather was this morning, I think it was the right decision," he said.
"It’s changed this afternoon. When we started racing the first part was fine and the second part was wet a little dangerous. By then the decision had already been taken, so we had to respect it. We’re still leading the race, so we’re pretty happy."
"We tried to do it fairly well even if the time didn’t count. I think we did a decent time, of course we weren’t thinking of the GC or fighting. We just gave it a good go and do a good job.
This is the first image of BMC in action from our photographers at the race.
Thanks for joining us for live coverage of the TTT at the Volta a Valenciana.
That's wraps up today's live coverage.
We'll have full coverage of the decisive weekend stages of the Spanish on Cyclingnews.
For out full stage report and photo gallery click here.
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