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Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2017: Stage 3

 Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya. After yesterday's high-speed team time trial and the subsequent polemics about Movistar and pushes, the riders face a 188km stage inland than ends with the La Molina mountain finish. 

 

The stage could decide the overall winner of this year's race. 

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.

We have live coverage from Belgium too.   

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).

 

Movistar started but were not happy about losing the stage victory over night.

 

We'll have full reaction from the Movistar and BMC teams very soon.

 

145km remaining from 188km

There are further attacks from the peloton but riders are being chased down. 

 

For now the right combination of riders has not formed and the peloton is carefully controlling who allowed to go clear. 

 

 

 

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

 

#VoltaCatalunya After one hour of racing no breakaway has established yet. Still a long way to go and a lot of climbing coming up

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

The quintet has a lead of 25 seconds. 

 

#VoltaCatalunya we have a break group w/ 5 riders & our @Ackes171 is also in it w/ 25'' gap

 The gap is up to 30 seconds but Brambilla has dropped back to the peloton.

 

Perhaps his job was to ensure the break got away, so that Serry can be there for Quick-Step Floors. 

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

 

For a while the peloton chased and kept the gap to 30 seconds. Now it is up to 1:00 as the race nears the first intermediate sprint. 

 

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

 

The BMC team has now moved to the front to protect Ben Hermans' race leader's jersey.

 As you can see from the profile map of the stage at the top of our live coverage, the riders face 70km of raving on flat roads before the climbs begin.

 

The escapees have stretched out their advantage to 2:30 after 50 kilometers. #DDV

@quickstepteam Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 12:20:37

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. 

 

#VoltaCatalunya after 105km the gap to the breakaway has risen to 3 minutes with @BMCProTeam leading the peloton behind.

@BMCProTeam Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 12:35:27

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.

 

After an initial penalty given to Rojas that put Valverde into the leader's jersey, the new decision leaves the veteran Spaniard 58 seconds back on the BMC riders, who were also given the stage victory.

 

To read the full reaction from the Movistar team, and from BMC, click here for this report by Alasdair Fotheringham, who is at the Volta a Catalunya for Cyclingnews.  

 

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. 

 

1 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 5:17:18
2 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
3 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
4 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
5 Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing Team
6 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team
7 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team
8 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:44
9 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky
10 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky

 

Caption this... https://t.co/j0gFrzWsm2

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 13:10:32

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.

 

#VoltaCatalunya 7'05" d'avance pour les 4 échappés à 80 km de l'arrivée #DDV 4'30" d'avance pour @KVanbilsen et les 5 autres fuyards

@TeamCOFIDIS Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 13:24:15

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. 

 

Giro d'Italia: Jerseys for 100th edition unveiled - Video | https://t.co/ftsc9CoOmM https://t.co/CFqaHF4mbD

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 13:30:35

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

 

#VoltaCatalunya After 103km the leaders have a 6"50 advantage. Plenty of snow up at the finish in La Molina 1691m

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.

 

However the double climb of La Molina is likely to see the race explode, with Chris Foome, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Dan Martin and many others forced to show their form and ambitions for the race. 

 

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

 

Trek-Segafredo finished 1:13 down on BMC in the TTT results.

 

"The race has got more complicated because van Garderen and Sky with Froome and Thomas are all ahead," Contador said. "So we'll have to see what we can do."

 

"It's not possible to say if these differences are decisive, but in previous years the Volta has been decided by minimal gaps," he said.

 

"These differences can be cut back, and there are five stages left. So we will have to try. I feel good, the team is going well, but we have to congratulate the other teams who have ridden more strongly than we did." 

 

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.

 

They clearly want to go for the stage victory as well as shake up the overall classification. 

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

 

Now for a high-speed descent and then the back to back climbs up to La Molina.  

 

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

 

43km remaining from 188km

The gap is coming down fast thanks to Team Sky's chase. It is just 5:00. now.

 

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

 

Get ready for some attacks!

 

#VoltaCatalunya The breakaways gap is coming down quick time now as the bunch start to chase hard. It's just 5'00" with 40km to go.

@TeamSunweb Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 14:41:09

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

 

40km remaining from 188km

With 40km to go the mountains dominate the skyline, with snow confirming that spring has only just started. Local temperatures are about 7C.   

 

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

Vasil Kiryienka is riding on the front of the peloton for Team Sky. He is setting a hard but steady pace.

 

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

 

#VoltaCatalunya the peloton is on the first ascent of La Molina as Sky leads. Around 32kms to go.

@TrekSegafredo Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 14:55:51

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

The gap is down to 2:00. Kiri's big effort at the head of the peloton is having a big effect.

 

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. 

 

The peloton is 1:20 back now. 

 

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

 

Lotta Lepistö wins Women's Dwars door Vlaanderen | https://t.co/Scfnfk8m1s https://t.co/bWw8Yrdlna

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 15:10:10

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.  

 

#VoltaCatalunya 1 more decent and climb upto the finish in La Molina. @AdamYates7 & @Carlos_Verona in reduced chase… https://t.co/EDklAyAycv

@OricaScott Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 15:13:54

14km remaining from 188km

The break is back on the valley road but they will soon head back to La Molina.

 

The gap is 1:10.

 

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

The break hits the climb but there are attacks behind. 

 

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

Nieve is leading for Team Sky.  

 

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

 

The speed is high as Serry and Rubio are caught.    

 

Berhane leads alone now by just 25 seconds. 

 

#VoltaCatalunya 10 km to go! We're on the final climb of the day.

@LottoJumbo_road Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 15:29:47

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

 

Pete Kennaugh is next in line behind Nieve and will soon take over.

 

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. 

 

They can see him now.

 

8km remaining from 188km

All change. Trek take over from Team Sky and up the speed. 

 

Here we go! 

 

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

 

Pantano is doing a huge job for his team leader here.

 

Behind riders are being spat out of the back. 

 

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

 

As is Tejay van Garderen (BMC). 

 

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

 

6km remaining from 188km

This is a fast, power climb but with some steep sectors later.

 

That is where the attacks will come.

 

Orica kick it off, with Carlos Verona going clear. 

 

5km remaining from 188km

This is good for Adam Yates or for a solo win by the local rider.

 

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

 

Kennaugh drags them up to Verona.

 

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.

 

Kennaugh tries to give everything he has to help his teammates well placed.   

 

2km remaining from 188km

They cross the bridge and then road kicks up again at 10%. 

 

 

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.

 

Tejay van Garderen is there too.

 

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? 

 

#VoltaCatalunya @AdamYates7 takes third place with Valverde (Movistar) sprinting to victory https://t.co/oNvWLWTGDw

@OricaScott Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 15:54:00

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

That's good news for him after his quiet performance at Tirreno-Adriatico.

 

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.

 

Valverde took some time back thanks to a 10-second time bonus.

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

#VoltaCatalunya GC 1. Van Garderen (BMC) 10:24:33 2. Sanchez (BMC) +41" 3. @GeraintThomas86 +44" 4. Valverde (MOV)… https://t.co/KSwNQiZNx6

@TeamSky Wed, 22nd Mar 2017 16:00:38

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

 

Romain Bardet was fourth and Illnur Zakarin was fifth, both in the same time. 

 

That's @alejanvalverde's 101st career victory - our 10th of the 2017 season. And we'll keep on fighting

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

 

This is the provisional top ten for the stage.

 

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 5:07:12
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:03
4 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
6 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
7 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
8 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
9 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:08
10 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac.

 

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

 

Chris Froome seems to have cracked slightly in the final kick and finished 12th, also 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.

 

Thomas is only 44 seconds back, with Valverde at 45, Froome at 49, Contador at 1:13 and Adam Yates at 1:18.  

Friday's fifth stage to Lo Port de Tortosa will be vital. It ends with a 25 minute mountain effort and is considered much harder than today's stage.  

 

 

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

 

"The team rode really well. It was a fast stage with the break, then Team Sky did a fast pace on the climb. But Soler controlled things for us and then I sprinted for the win." 

"I was confident in the sprint and when Martin got on my wheel near the line, I knew I'd got it." 

 

 

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

 

It takes the rider down from the Pyrenees near Andorra to the hills behind Barcelona. 

 

With a fast start and then two late climbs, it seems perfect for a breakaway. 

 

 

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

 

We will also have exclusive news and interviews from the finish at La Molina. 

 

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

 

Hasta luego! 

 

 

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

 

 

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