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Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2017: Stage 3

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As we join the action the riders have covered the opening 30km of racing on flat roads. 

We have seen several attacks go clear to try to form the break of the day but the peloton has kept the moves under control.  

Today is a busy day of racing with the Dwars Door Vlaanderen also giving riders their first taste of the Flemish cobbles and climbs before E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem on Friday and Sunday.

Six riders did not start the stage this morning: Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ), Alexandre Geniez (AG2R), Sander Armee, Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Chad Haga (Sunweb) and Manuele Mori (UAE Team Emirates).

145km remaining from 188km

It has made for a fast start to the mountain stage, with riders covering 42km in the first hour of racing.

For a while the peloton was split into to groups but we have seen a gradual reforming and a new attack. 

Now Gianluca Brambilla, Pieter Serry (Quick-Step Floors), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Diego Rubio (Caja Rural) have pushed clear. 

128km remaining from 188km

It appears the peloton has finally eased its grip on the break. 

Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) needs some mechanical assistance but he is quickly away. 

Pieter Serry (Quick-Step Floors), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Diego Rubio (Caja Rural) have extended their lead to 3:00 as BMC sets a steady pace at the head of the peloton.

The road is starting to rise gradually with the mountains looming big on the horizon.

The riders reach the top of the Ribes de Freser climb after 105km. The remaining 83km are then either on the three testing climbs or their descents. There is no respite at all.  

The Alt de Toses climb comes after 123km and tops out at 1770m. It is followed by a fast descent to Alp and then the two climbs up to La Molina. 

The Movistar have reacted angrily to the UCI’s decision to give all their riders a penalty of one minute after Jose Joaquin Rojas was seen pushing two other riders during Tuesday’s team time trial.

As the riders pass the 100km point of the 188km stage, the gap for the break has reached 5:00.  

This image shows the villain of the TTT leading the Movistar team. Race judges deemed that Rojas helped several teammates get back into the line of fast-moving riders and so gave the team an unfair advantage.

Today's stage started on the coast not far from Barcelona but finishes in the Pyrenees, not from the border with France.

The finish line is at the foot of the ski slopes, with snow still on the ground.  

 The latest time check for the escapees is 5:20. 

The peloton has passed through the feed zone at the 100km. They're fast approaching the toughest part of this first climb. The average speed after two hours of racing has been 43kph. 

Like yesterday, today will be key for the overall classification and will give riders an opportunity to take back time lost in yesterday's time trial. The results have been amended more times than we care to remember but here is the latest top 10 after the overnight changes. 

A reminder of those in the breakaway, who now have 6:50 on the peloton. Pieter Serry (Quick-Step Floors), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Diego Rubio (Caja Rural)

The first ascent of the day is the Collada de Tosses. It is a first cat ascent with gradients of up to 14 per cent and is just over 20 kilometres in length. That will be followed by the first of two ascents of La Molina.

As to be expected, BMC is on the front of the peloton. They're happy to let these four guys hang about up front and take is easily enough for now. 

Away from Catalunya, the Classics are back on in Belgium with Dwars door Vlaanderen where team Sunweb is debuting the Dura Ace disc brakes. You can read about that here

The gap to the break touched 7:00 at one point but as the first gradual climb hurts more and more, it is coming down.

Ackermann won the intermediate sprint after 105km but that is of little consolation as the first real climv of the day kicks in.

So far today the polemic about Movistar's one-minute penality for Jojas' pushes during the TTT has been the talk of the day.

Contador said he believes the time gaps will not be massive today but expects some hard racing.

As the Alt de Toses climb hurts more and more, Ackermann is the first to be dropped, with Trek leading the pace at the head of the peloton. 

The trio of Serry, Berhane and Rubio are first over the top of the climb but behind Team Sky has taken control of the chase.

The gap was 5:30 at the summit of Alto de Toses.

Berhane took the maximum points at the summit, a few metres ahead of the other two.

43km remaining from 188km

The riders are now in the valley of Alp but will soon begin the first climb to La Molina.

The AG2R-La Mondiale Is also on the front of the peloton, working with Team Sky.

40km remaining from 188km

The road snakes up to the ski resort via some hairpins, meaning we can see the splits in the peloton.  

At 10km from the summit of the climb there are 50 or so riders together, with the rest spread down the road. 

Berhane is on Rubio's wheel as they try to stay away from the pack. Their jerseys are open to stay cool.  

32km remaining from 188km

Kiri has Geraint Thomas and then Chris Froome on his wheel. 

Contador is just behind with Mollema and Pantano.

This part of the climb is wide and has a gradual gradient. Things kick up later on and especially on the extra section ridden to the finish line on the second time up the climb.

28km remaining from 188km

Team Sky also has Mikel Nieve up front to help Froome and Thomas. 

The trio up front crest the climb with Berhane taking the climber's points. He should be in the climber's jersey at the end of the stage. 

It's a busy day of racing! Check out our first report on the women's Dwars Door Vlaanderen. 

The group of chasers consists of 30 or so riders. 

The three attackers are on the fast descent. They tuck over their bikes looking to rest up as they descend at speed.  

14km remaining from 188km

Race leader Ben Hermans is still in the peloton. He is wearing a gilet over his white and green leader's jersey.

13km remaining from 188km

Pieter Weening of Rompoot is the man off the front, pushing a big gear.

Weening messed up a corner and is quickly pulled back by Team Sky.

up front Berhane is on the move. He jumps away alone and ups his effort. However he still has 11km to race and leads by less than a minute.

Team Sky still have four riders on the front of the peloton, including Froome and Thomas. 

10km remaining from 188km

Hugh Carthy is pushing a huge gear as he tries to stay in the front group.

Berhane leads alone now by just 25 seconds. 

Team Sky is no doubt riding to a clear pace set via their power metres. 

The Movistar riders are lined up behind Team Sky.

Behind them are Mollema and Contador. 

Berhane is fighting to stay away but the peloton are about to sweep him up. 

8km remaining from 188km

Thomas is on Contador's wheel, ready for an attack.

Behind riders are being spat out of the back. 

Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors), Valverde and Bardet are also up there. 

Atapuma tries to go for UAE but he quickly slips back into line. 

6km remaining from 188km

Orica kick it off, with Carlos Verona going clear. 

5km remaining from 188km

Verona is pushing a big gear but so is the group. 

Team Sky are back in charge, with Thomas and Froome lined up behind Kennaugh.

Froome is spinning a lower gear but is going deep, his head is rocking.  

The gradient eases for a moment but it will soon pick up.

2km remaining from 188km

Kennaugh moves off and so Movistar try to smash it.  

Atapuma kicks as they all fight for his wheel. 

Thomas is strong and near the front. But so too is Contador.

Adam Yates is well-placed for an eventual sprint to the line.

Dan Martin goes on the attack! 

Valverde challenges him.

They go shoulder to shoulder but Valverde gets it! 

That was a high-speed finish and Valverde had the edge in the finish and was able to get ahead of Martin, who won last year.

There were a few gaps behind the two and so perhaps some time gaps in the results.

Martin made the slight error of sprinting on the tops of his levers. Valverde was tucked lower on the drops. 

It'll be interesting to hear Valverde's reaction to Movistar's one-minute penalty in the TTT that was decided this morning.

How do you say revenge in Spanish? 

It looked like Tejay van Garderen was in the front group and so should become the new race leader. 

Tejay leads by 41 seconds and so will soon pull on the green and white jersey.

Thomas is third overall at 44 seconds, with Valverde fourth at 45 seconds. Froome is fifth overall at 49 seconds.

As ever the finish at La Molina was fast and furious with the kick to the line deciding the stage winner after a high speed burn-up on the main road. 

Provsional results show that Adam Yates finished third, three seconds back on Valverde and Martin.

Geraint Thomas was sixth, ahead of Alberto Contdor and van Garderen.  

Michael Woods and Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) completed the top ten at eight seconds. 

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) leads teammate Samuel Sanchez by 41 seconds now but he will have to watch for the riders near in the overall classification.

Alejandro Valverde was happy to win the stage but avoided any polemics about the TTT penalty soon after the finish.  

The Volta a Catalunya continues on Thursday with the 194km fourth stage from Llívia to Igualada.

To read all about the action from today's stage, click here for a our race report and photo gallery.

Join us tomorrow for more live coverage of all the action from the Volta a Catalunya.

We'll sign off with this first image of Valverde winning today's stage ahead of Dan Martin. 

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