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Stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya brings the race from Canal Olímpic de Catalunya to the summit finish at Vallter 2000. The neutralised start is at 11.35 CET, with the peloton scheduled to hit kilometre zero at 11.45. 

The Canal Olímpic de Catalunya, constructed for the sprint canoe events at the 1992 Olympics, is just outside Castelldefels. After a flat start, the road begins to climb very, very gradually as the peloton makes its long way north towards the Pyrenean ski resort of Vallter 2000. That 11km climb to the finish is the day’s only categorised ascent, but as the stage profile demonstrates, the road rises for quite some time beforehand.

The general classification picture is as follows ahead of stage 3:

-201km

João Almeida has impressed in just about every race he’s competed in during his short professional career, and he is continuing in the same manner here. The Portuguese rider was third behind Rohan Dennis and Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Remi Cavagna in yesterday’s time trial in Banyoles, which was enough to put him in the leader’s jersey, just ahead of Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates). “I did a good TT, maybe I should have pushed myself a little bit more in the middle part but I was afraid of killing myself," Almeida said. Our man in Catalonia Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.

-190km

-185km

-181km

-175km

Situation

Away from the Volta a Catalunya, the build-up to the Tour of Flanders begins in earnest today with the Classic Brugge-De Panne (the remaining shard of the much missed Three Days of De Panne). You can follow live coverage of the action in Belgium here.

The Tour of Flanders look set to take on heightened significance this year, with news breaking that Paris-Roubaix is set to be postponed due to the tightened coronavirus restrictions in northern France.  Le Parisien has reported that a final decision has been made that the men's and women's editions of the race cannot go ahead as planned on April 11.  Race organiser ASO has not yet commented on the matter, but reports suggest the formal postponement of the race, possibly to an end-of-season October date, will be announced today. Read more here

-170km

-165km

After losing 8 minutes on the opening stage, Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) lost another 2:05 in yesterday's 18.5km time trial. It's very difficult to imagine how the Briton could be competitive at the Tour de France given his results since he returned to racing at the start of last season, but he looked to strike an upbeat note after his 90th-place finish on stage 2. “It’s a long, old journey getting back. But the team are being fantastic in supporting me and in the meantime I’m getting to know my teammates and fitting in the groove. It’s a great bunch of guys,” Froome said. "Naturally, I’d love to be ready for the Tour de France, but I’ve just got to follow the process and keep doing what we can.” Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.

-154km

-148km

Francisco Galvan (Kern Pharma) is the highest-placed of the break on GC, having started the day 1:02 down in 39th overall. The Spaniard is the virtual race leader and will remain so for some time given that the break's lead is now in excess of 9 minutes.

-137km

-127km

Deceuninck-QuickStep have been leading the peloton for the past hour or so, but Jumbo-Visma have now joined them in the pace-making effort. Steven Kruijswijk lies 4th overall at 5 seconds, and he is joined in the Jumbo-Visma selection here by George Bennett, Chris Harper and Robert Gesink.

Galvan led Camp and Evans through the intermediate sprint at San Fruitos de Bages, where the break’s lead stood at 12:25.

-105km

Volta a Catalunya stage 3

The escapees have averaged 44kph in the first two hours of racing on stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya. (Image credit: Getty Images)

-102km

-94km

Away from the Volta a Catalunya, Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe has expressed "full support" for Dave Brailsford after Richard Freeman was found guilty of was found guilty of ordering testosterone in 2011 'knowing or believing' it was for a rider. Ratcliffe's company took over from Sky as sponsor in 2019, and he told the Telegraph that the Freeman case has not altered his backing for the team."Your antenna starts pinging if you're uncomfortable about something. My antenna doesn't start pinging when I'm chatting to Dave. Quite the opposite," Ratcliffe said. "I like Dave. He has my full support. Unless something came up that I was shocked by, he will continue to have my full support."

-78km

The pace is beginning to pick up slightly in the peloton and the break's lead is gently being reeled in as a result. The gap is down to 7:20, with 72km remaining, including that tough haul to the finish at Vallter 2000.

Five riders came to the finish together when the Volta last visited Vallter 2000 in 2019, with Adam Yates claiming stage victory ahead of Egan Bernal, Dan Martin, Nairo Quintana and Miguel Angel Lopez. Unlike today, where Vallter 2000 is the only classified climb, there were four ascents on the agenda two years ago. 

-69km

Today's finale at Vallter 2000 was also the site of Tejay van Garderen's first WorldTour win in 2014, when he beat Romain Bardet to the summit amid miserable conditions

-52km

Deceuninck-QuickStep, Jumbo-Visma and Ineos continue to lead the peloton, 5:25 down on the escapees. The road is climbing gradually as part of the long, long lead-in to the foot of the day's final ascent, but the escapees are being helped along by a slight tailwind for the time being.

It will be interesting to see how Ineos approach the finishing climb today, given that their squad features Adam Yates, Richard Carapaz, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas. Yates, best placed after the time trial and a past winner at Vallter 2000, seems the obvious lead option today, but it remains to be seen how they will decide to deploy Carapaz, who starts the day 52 seconds down on Almeida.

Ineos have the core of their Tour de France squad here. Yesterday's stage winner Rohan Dennis will hope to be in the squad in July, but he was under no illusions about his place in the hierarchy here. “I’m just a donkey,” Dennis said yesterday. "I’m just the one who helps out. It’s amazing we’ve got four cards to play with the two Richies [Richie Porte and Richard Carapaz], G [Geraint Thomas] and Yatesy [Adam Yates] too. It’s not going to get any easier from here, we’ve got Vallter 2000. It’s good we’ve got options.”

-40km

Attention is understandably drawn northwards at this time of year, but few races on the calendar have a deeper field than the Volta a Catalunya. Beyond Almeida and the Ineos squad, the list of riders with designs on making an impression today is a lengthy one, with men like Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Steven Kruijswijk, Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler, Enric Mas (Movistar), Jai Hindley (DSM), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Hugh Carthy, Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo), Dan Martin, Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Ilnur Zakarin (Gazprom-RusVelo) all present.

-35km

-31km

Deceuninck-QuickStep's pace-making continues to bring the peloton closer to the escapees. 4:13 the gap.

-25km

-20km

-16km

-13km

-12km

-11.5km

-11km

-10.5km

-10km

-9.5km

Valverde and Carapaz are joined by Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation). They don't work with Valverde, however, and the move peters out.

Even so, the pace is too much for Chris Froome, who is dropped from the peloton with over 9km of the climb still to go. There are still around 40 or so riders in this group.

-8.5km

Simon Yates' attack has lined out the white jersey group still further and gaps are opening. Carapaz, Valverde, Woods, Kuss, Hugh Carthy and Nairo Quintana are with Yates. They have a handful of seconds on a larger group featuring Joao Almeida...

-8km

-7.8km

Valverde has opened a gap and he is picking off the remnants of the break caught between Arensman and the GC group.

-7km

-6.5km

-6.4km

Quintana catches Valverde, who latches on the Colombian's wheel. This duo is 52 seconds down on the lone leader Thymen Arensman (DSM). 

-6km

-5.5km

-5km

Carapaz's struggles haven't gone unnoticed... Adam Yates accelerates viciously from the Almeida group. Only Kuss can follow the Briton's pace, and they swoop across to Valverde at all in a matter of metres.

Remarkably, Valverde is the only man from that quartet who can follow Yates and Kuss. Quintana, Ciccone and Carapaz fall back...

-4.5km

-4km

-3.7km

Back in the Almeida group, Wilco Kelderman accelerates and strings things out. His effort appears to have done for Almeida's helpers James Knox and Fausto Masnada.

-3km

-2.6km

-2.3km

-1.8km

Adam Yates looks to be riding to stage victory and the overall lead as he throws away his bidon. He can see Kuss and Valverde on the hairpin beneath him, as he extends his lead out to 29 seconds. 

Esteban Chaves (BikeExchange) is now the second rider on the road. The Colombian accelerated with about 3km to go but the television cameras lost sight of him until now. He must have caught and passed Kuss and Valverde..

-1km

Adam Yates (Ineos) wins stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya.

Esteban Chaves (BikeExchange) is second at 13 seconds. Alejandro Valverde is third at 18 seconds or so.

The group of favourites fragmented on the final approach to the summit. Geraitn Thomas (Ineos) emerges to take 4th on the stage, 31 seconds down. Vanhoucke, Carthy and Kuss were with him.

Dan Martin, Richie Porte, Kelderman and Simon Yates weren't far behind Thomas. Almeida, on the other hand, comes in 47 seconds down on the stage winner Adam Yates.

Brandon McNulty comes in 1:20 down, with Kruijswijk and Carapaz a little behind him. 

Result

General classification

Adam Yates on his victory: "We had to keep the break under control, because at the beginning they gained a lot of time. It’s a long climb and a really hard climb so we knew even if they had a couple of minutes at the bottom, we could bring it back. Everything was perfect. In the end, we knew we had cards to play and we played them well, with Richie [Carapaz] going with the other move, and then I came across and just kept going. It’s my first victory for my new team, so I’m really happy.

VALLTER 2000 SETCASES VALL CAMPRODON SPAIN MARCH 24 Arrival Adam Yates of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers Celebration during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 3 a 2031km stage from Canal Olmpic de Catalunya to Vallter 2000 Setcases Vall Camprodon 2125m VoltaCatalunya100 on March 24 2021 in Vallter 2000 Setcases Vall Camprodon Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

In Belgium, meanwhile, Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) has won the Classic Brugge-De Panne, his first one-day WorldTour victory. A report is available here.

A report, results and photos from stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya are available here.

VALLTER 2000 SETCASES VALL CAMPRODON SPAIN MARCH 24 Adam Yates of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers Sepp Kuss of United States and Team Jumbo Visma during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 3 a 2031km stage from Canal Olmpic de Catalunya to Vallter 2000 Setcases Vall Camprodon 2125m Breakaway Attack VoltaCatalunya100 on March 24 2021 in Vallter 2000 Setcases Vall Camprodon Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

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