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Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2018: Stage 3

78km remaining from 166km

As we pick up the action a little over midway through the stage, a four-man break has a lead of 2:25 over the peloton. Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Alvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-RGA Seguros), Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) and Oscar Cabedo (Burgos-BH) forged clear in the opening kilometres, and the Team Sky-controlled peloton has been content to let them to it.

 

The leading quartet went clear after 23 kilometres, and their advantage has never exceeded 2:40. Although there are a couple of climbs between here and the finish, the sprinters will expect another opportunity to contest the win at the finish in Herrera.

 

The pace was high in those opening kilometres as attack after attack failed to gain any traction, though the action cooled once Minnaard and company broke away. Amaro Antunes (CCC-Sprandi) was a faller during those early kilometres, and the Portuguese rider has been forced to abandon the Ruta del Sol.

 

74km remaining from 166km

The general classification picture is as follows today after Wout Poels' victory atop the Alto de las Allanadas on stage 2:

 

1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 8:59:43
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:04
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:17
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:27
8 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias 0:00:34
9 Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:00:38
10 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal

 

All eyes were on Chris Froome ahead of yesterday's ascent of the Allanadas, where he had produced such a startling acceleration to win three years ago. Froome is in his first race since news broke in December of his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, but he denied that the yet to be resolved case had had any impact on his performance yesterday, as he came home in 7th place, 27 seconds down on his teammate Poels. "This is my first race. I wasn't necessarily coming here expecting to smash the whole race. I think we've got the leader's jersey now with Wout so we'll do absolutely everything to keep that jersey on his shoulders," Froome said. Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.

 

Froome's decision to ride the Ruta del Sol is contentious, not least because were he on an MPCC team, he would not be permitted to race until his case resolved. No matter, his participation has tripled the media presence in Andalusia this week, as his teammate Wout Poels noted during a more crowded than usual Ruta del Sol press conference yesterday. "There's more press, but it is what it is. At least I'm getting a few more interviews with the media, so that's good," Poels joked. Read the full story here.

 

64km remaining from 166km

Alvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) leads the break over the day's first categorised climb, the Puerto de Carcabiey (category 3). Saez and Minnaard were second and third ahead of Cabedo.

 

Elsewhere this morning, Magnus Cort claimed victory on stage 4 of the Tour of Oman, while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) retained the red jersey. A full report is here, and Sadhbh O'Shea has the stage winner's reaction to his first win in Astana colours here.

 

54km remaining from 166km

Hector Saez leads the break over the second of the day's climbs, the category 3  Puerto del Mojón. They remain 2:20 clear of the peloton.

 

Chris Froome (Team Sky) spoke briefly at the start in Mancha Real and downplayed the idea that racing at the Ruta del Sol was a relief amid the legal wrangling over his salbutamol case. "It’s great to be racing, not about tension or relief or anything like that. It’s the start of my season," Froome said.

 

Froome also took a strange swipe at press coverage of his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol. "It’s definitely been hyped up in the media. Anyone can see that. It shows, it shows here at the race," Froome said. That seems a very disingenuous take from Froome. A four-time winner of the Tour de France returning a positive test while winning the Vuelta a Espana is clearly major news, and quite simply, the biggest news story in cycling in 2018. It's certainly not "hype."

 

39km remaining from 166km

The pace is beginning to rise slightly in the peloton. The gap to the break drops accordingly, and now stands at 1:30. Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Alvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) and Oscar Cabedo (Burgos-BH) are the men up the road.

 

The break's unity is beginning to fragment as the sprinters' teams begin to take a firmer interest in the pursuit and the peloton draws ever closer.

 

29km remaining from 166km

The bunch closes to within a minute of the break, which is starting to fragment as they sense the end of their adventure.

 

25km remaining from 166km

Cuadros and Saez have shed themselves of their two companions, and this duo has a lead of 30 seconds over the peloton.

 

Direct Energie are among the teams leading the pursuit in support of Thomas Boudat, who won the opening stage on Wednesday.

 

Minnaard and Cabedo have dropped back into the main peloton, where Education First-Drapac are putting their shoulder to the wheel on behalf of Sacha Modolo.

 

18km remaining from 166km

Wout Poels sits comfortably amid a phalanx of Team Sky riders near the head of the peloton as Education First-Drapac and Direct Energie combine to chase down Alvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias).

 

14km remaining from 166km

Cuadros and Saez still have 22 seconds in hand on the peloton, but they surely won't survive much longer at this rate.

 

Belgian champion Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) is near the front in support of Clement Venturini. Naesen spoke to Sporza yesterday and contested Chris Froome's assertion that he was roundly welcomed by his fellow competitors in the Ruta del Sol peloton. Read the full story here.

 

11km remaining from 166km

The adventure comes to an end for Cuadros and Saez as they are swept up by the peloton. The race is back together and the stage is set for a bunch sprint.

 

9km remaining from 166km

Modolo and Boudat will be the favourites for stage honours today, but there are plenty of sprinters here. Moreno Hofland and Tosh Van der Sande are on hand for Lotto Soudal, while Clement Venturni (AG2R), Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty) and Brenton Jones (Delko Marseille) will all hope to contend.

 

8km remaining from 166km

AG2R La Mondiale set the tempo at the head of the race, with Naesen putting in a mammoth turn on the front on a long false flat.

 

7km remaining from 166km

AG2R continue to pile on the pressure at the front of the race in support of Venturini. The bunch is strung out in a long line, and there are some riders beginning to flag at the back.

 

The sprinters' teams are moving their leaders into position, including Israel Cycling Academy on behalf of Kristian Sbaragli, and it's notable, too, that a delegation from Astana is keeping Luis Leon Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang in position.

 

5km remaining from 166km

It's an impressive show of force from AG2R La Mondiale at the front, as Naesen grinds is mammoth gear over in the wind.

 

Sacha Modolo has plenty of Education First-Drapac riders around him as he moves up. The Italian will be desperate to make amends for his near miss on day one.

 

4km remaining from 166km

Moreno Moser (Astana) hits the front of the bunch with Luis Leon Sanchez on his wheel. Are they simply staying out of trouble, or is Luis Leon Sanchez hoping to snare a few seconds from Poels?

 

3km remaining from 166km

It's a notable cameo from Moser, but it doesn't look as though an Astana ambush is in the offing, as Direct Energie take over at the front.

 

2km remaining from 166km

Moser hasn't gone away, and the Italian is back on the front, again with Sanchez on his wheel. Riders are being jettisoned off the back of the bunch, though all of the sprinters and GC contenders are still in situ.

 

1km remaining from 166km

EF-Drapac take up the reins at the front of the bunch and sweep through the first of two roundabouts in the run-in.

 

1km remaining from 166km

EF-Drapac lead into the final kilometre.

 

Direct Energie lead into the final left-hand turn...

 

Sacha Modolo opens his sprint from distance...

 

Sacha Modolo (Education First-Drapac) wins stage 3 of the Ruta del Sol.

 

Carlos Barbero (Movistar) took second place on the stage, ahead of Neslon Soto (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).

 

Oscar Gatto (Astana) placed 4th ahead of Moreno Hofland (Lotto Soudal).

 

Modolo, however, was full value for his win. He was perfectly tucked in second wheel as the sprint began, and he made sure to power all the way through the line before raising his arms in victory this time around.

 

Result:

 

1 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 3:48:17
2 Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
3 Nelson Andres Soto Martinez (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
4 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
5 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal
6 Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
7 Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
8 Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
9 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10 Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling

 

 

There was a crash towards the front on that final corner, with an AG2R La Mondiale rider hitting the ground, though the bulk of the sprinters managed to pick their way through safely.

 

Wout Poels (Team Sky) finished safely in the main peloton to retain the red jersey of race leader, 3 seconds clear of Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).

 

General classification:

 

1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 12:48:05
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:05
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:18
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:28
8 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias 0:00:35
9 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:39
10 Steven Kruijswijkj (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:41

 

 

There was a minor split in the peloton, with Poels, Sanchez and Wellens all picking up a second on Landa and Froome, but the commissaires may yet correct that, as it seems the split was forced by that late crash. Whatever the decision there, Steven Kruijswijk will moves into the top 10 as a result of Amaro Antunes' abandon.

 

General classification:

 

1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 12:48:05
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:03
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:05
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:18
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:28
8 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias 0:00:35
9 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:39
10 Steven Kruijswijkj (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:41

 

 

General classification:

 

1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 12:48:05
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:03
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:05
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:18
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:28
8 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias 0:00:35
9 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:39
10 Steven Kruijswijkj (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:41

 

 

The word reaching us from Herrera is that Carlos Barbero lodged a protest with the commissaires, claiming that he had been impeded by Modolo the sprint. I have to say that I saw nothing wrong with Modolo's line in the finishing straight, though it seems Barbero's complaint may have been about the final bend, of which we did not have a very clear view. No matter, the commissaires have dismissed the complaint and the result stands: Sacha Modolo is confirmed as the stage winner.

 

A full report and pictures from today's stage 3 of the Ruta del Sol are available here.

 

Result:

 

1 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 3:48:17
2 Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
3 Nelson Andres Soto Martinez (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
4 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
5 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal
6 Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
7 Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
8 Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
9 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10 Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling

 

And confirmation of the general classification, with the time gaps amended by the commissaires:

 

1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 12:48:00
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:04
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:17
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:27
8 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias 0:00:34
9 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:38
10 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:40

 

At the Volta ao Algarve, meanwhile, Team Sky have placed four riders in the top 10 in the stage 3 time trial, with Geraint Thomas taking the win. A report will follow here.

 

Thanks for following our live coverage of stage 3 of the Ruta del Sol on Cyclingnews. We'll be back with more tomorrow, but in the meantime you can find a full report, results and pictures from today's stage here, while Alasdair Fotheringham will have all the news from Andalusia, including Froome's latest thoughts here.

 

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