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Vuelta a Burgos stage 3 - Live coverage

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Cyclingnews live race centre for stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos. It's a big one, with the now-traditional summit finish at Picón Blanco. There's another mountain stage on the final day on Saturday, so this won't settle it, but it's nevertheless a key juncture in the race for the overall title.

The climb to the military base on Picón Blanco measures 7.8km at an average gradient of 9.3 per cent. There are some gentler sections, but some viciously steep ramps, and while it's narrow and winding for the most part, it does open up towards the top. It's the fifth climb on the menu, but the others are all third-category and shouldn't shake up the race too much, beyond softening the legs.

The riders are still signing on in Sargentes de La Lora on what's already a very hot day. The start of the stage is coming up in around 10 minutes. 

All the teams have now signed on and the riders are on the start line ready to get going.

If this is the first major international race since March, then this is the first major summit finish (sorry Sibiu Tour). The racing hiatus has left us with a host of question marks, and so today's stage has an air of unpredictability about it. Who has coped well with lockdown? Who managed to put the hours in on the turbo? Who has managed to stay focused psychologically? There are a lot of big names who'll be seeking answers today, from Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and the Ineos duo of Richard Carapaz and Ivan Sosa. 

Speaking of Carapaz, our man in Spain Alasdair Fotheringham has a story on the Ecuadorian. Sosa might be the two-time winner in the Ineos ranks but Carapaz is leading the team at the Giro d'Italia, and told us he's feeling "very much on top of my preparation, and on track for my big target of the year". That said, he's cautious about how he might fare today, pointing out that Ineos also have Sosa and Eddie Dunbar.

Carapaz playing long game in Giro d'Italia build up

Caja Rural's Jonathan Lastra is a non-starter today. Stomach problems for the Spaniard.

If you'd like to catch up on yesterday's action, which saw Fernando Gaviria take a resounding win, here's our report page, with a write-up, results, and photos. 

Vuelta a Burgos: Gaviria wins stage 2

Gaviria's win was all the more impressive since UAE Team Emirates lost three riders before the stage had even begun. Yes, coronavirus dominated the headlines again yesterday morning as three of Gaviria's teammates followed the two Israel Start-Up Nation riders in being pulled out because of contact with someone who'd tested positive for COVID-19. For a brief moment, there were fears we could see the first COVID positive in the so-called 'peloton bubble' but all three were tested again on Wednesday and were confirmed as negative, as were the two Israel riders. 

Here's the latest on the story

It's been a fast downhill start and the riders are already approaching the first climb of the day, the Alto de la Mota (4.5km at 6%). We have a group of around nine that has now clipped away from the peloton. 

Here are the nine riders in the breakaway

Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo)

Nikita Stalnov (Astana)

Roger Adrià (Kern Pharma)

Francisco Galván (Kern Pharma)

Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH)

Juan Felipe Osorio (Burgos-BH)

Gotzon Martín (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Márton Dina (Kometa Xstra)

Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural)

Felix Großschartner wears the rather beautiful purple/pink leader's jersey they've got this year. Huge improvement on the plain purple of last year. The Austrian just keeps getting better and better, like most of his colleagues at Bora, and his emphatic victory on the punchy Alto del Castillo on the opening day signalled he could well have a say in this race. 

VILLADIEGO SPAIN JULY 29 Podium Felix Grossschartner of Austria and Team BoraHansgrohe Purple Leader Jersey Celebration Hostess Miss during the 42nd Vuelta a Burgos 2020 Stage 2 a 168km stage from Castrojeriz to Villadiego VueltaBurgos on July 29 2020 in Villadiego Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: David Ramos/Getty Images)

113km remaining

The nine breakaway riders have opened up a lead of 7 minutes as they hit the second climb of the day, the Alto de Escalerón (2.6km at 6%).

Big day for a certain Remco Evenepoel. The Belgian prodigy has stunned the pro ranks in the last 18 months, and is considered one of the favourites for the Giro d'Italia, his debut Grand Tour. But if there's one slight question mark, it's how he handles the high mountains, and some are reserving judgement on his Grand Tour prospects until they see more. 

Evenepoel has already won the Volta ao Algarve and Vuelta a San Juan this year, but this today's climb is a different beast, and with a much stronger field. It's still far from the heavy high-mountain days of the Giro, but it should give us some clues about how he's matching up against some of the world's best climbers that we have here at Burgos. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gotzon Martin leads the break over the top of the Alto de Escalerón, as he did at the Alto de la Mota. That sees the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider increase his lead in the mountains classification. 

The gap has grown out to 9 minutes as they approach the 50km mark. 

One of those sidelined Israel riders I mentioned before was Alex Dowsett. We spoke to him and he explained exactly what happened, and why. 

Dowsett: I wouldn't want to be responsible for endangering public health

Here's a first shot of our breakaway

Vuelta a Burgos 2020

(Image credit: Getty Images)

And here's the peloton. A pretty relaxed day so far.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The riders now hit the Alto de Ailanes (2.8km at 7.5%). The break's lead has nudged back down towards the eight-minute mark.

Big news just in, as AG2R La Mondiale announce a new title sponsor in the middle of a pandemic. French automotive company Citroën have signed up from 2021, when Vincent Lavenu's squad will be known as 'AG2R Citroën Team'.

Citroën to co-sponsor AG2R La Mondiale from 2021

Here's Großschartner aboard his all-new Tarmac SL7, a bike which has already seen success on stage 1. You can read our review here, and it could be yours for a cool £10,499 / $12,000.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here's a reminder of the overall standings as we edge closer to Picón Blanco. It's tight at the top, but that will all change today. The big casualty from a GC perspective is Simon Yates, who crashed on the opening day, but Mitchelton-Scott have a Plan B in the form of Esteban Chaves. 

1 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe

2 Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA - 0:00:08

3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team

4 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo

5 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling

6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team

7 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren

8 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma

9 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott

10 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Team Ineos

56km remaining

The riders are on a long section of flat now as the break comes to the feed zone. The gap is down to 6:30 now and the pace has picked up in the bunch. It's an exposed section of the course, this, and riders will have to be careful of the wind.

It looks like we have crosswinds. The pace is really picked up now and were starting to see the bunch stretch. 

Splits! The peloton is breaking up here

Ineos and Bora were on the front of the bunch and seemed to have forced a front echelon containing just their own riders. 

This is remarkable. The front split contains 11 riders and they're all from Ineos or Bora. Grossschartner is present and correct. 

Sosa dropped from the front split!

Not sure what that happened there. Sosa's obviously a climber so probably not the best natural echelon rider, but the defending champion has been spat out and Ineos, who still have Dunbar and Carapaz in the move, press on without him.

It's powerhouse Filippo Ganna who's driving this forward for Ineos, who have four riders in their. Bora have six!

Crikey, the wind is strong, leaves and trees being blown all over the place. 

The break are trying to press on in echelon formation. Their lead is down to 5:30 already, with just over 49km to go.

The race is in pieces behind. 

The front group are giving it everything, and they're now down to seven riders.

It's Carapaz, Dunbar, Ganna for Ineos. Bora have Grossschartner, Majka, Kamna, and Fabbro. 

There's a group that has the Ineos/Bora riders in sight, and it's a sizeable one now. 

Still a long way to go to the final climb!

The wind is still blowing from the side, so the pressure is very much still on, but the gaps aren't too big at this stage. 

The riders head through a town, where the buildings will offer a respite from the wind. It looks like a couple of the groups might come back together. 

Through town now and they have indeed been caught by that chase group. Another larger mini peloton is clawing its way back now. 

50 riders back in this front split, which is less of a split now and more of a peloton, albeit a reduced one. Some of the riders grab musettes from soigneurs and it looks like this will calm down for the time being. 

40km

40km to go then and the nine breakaway riders have a lead of four minutes over a reduced bunch. One more cat-3 climb coming up shortly, ahead of the final haul up Picón Blanco. 

It seems that all the GC contenders are safely back in the front bunch. We can see Landa, Valverde, Mas, Evenepoel are all there. 

The third group on the road, so those who have missed even this regrouping in the main bunch, is 40 seconds down and the chase is being led by Astana. It appears Groupama-FDJ's leader David Gaudu is back there too. 

30km to go

We're approaching the penultimate climb of the day, the Alto de Retuerta (3.8km at 7.5%). The break have just 2:50 in hand now, and the Astana/FDJ third group are still 40 seconds behind the peloton. 

QuickStep have now started to set the tempo in the peloton for Evenepoel. 

The break starts to strain towards the top of the Retuerta. It seems the weather conditions are disrupting the broadcast of the stage. 

Roger Adria (Kern Pharma) is alone at the head of the race with a lead of 3:30 over the main peloton, but it's unclear what kind of lead he has on his erstwhile breakaway companions.

-17km

Team Ineos are active at the head of the peloton on the fast approach towards the day's finishing climb. 

Adria is committed to his lone effort at the head of the race, and the Spaniard looks set to lead the race onto the final, 7.8km climb to Picon Blanco. 

-12km

Jumbo-Visma and Ineos are present in numbers at the head of the bunch, which is hurtling towards the base of the final ascent. 3:45 the gap to Adria.

The ascent of Picòn Blanco climbs for 7.8km at an average of 9.3% with some very sustained and demanding stretches of double-digit slopes. It is also the first major examination of this ‘new,’ post-lockdown cycling season…

-10km

Into the final 10km for Adria, who still has 3:40 in hand on a peloton where the GC contenders are beginning to move into position to attack the base of the Picon Blanco.

-8km

Adria begins the final climb with 3:30 in hand on the chasing peloton.

Adria's pace drops accordingly as the gradient stiffens. The peloton will surely splinter into shards when it reaches the same point.

Filippo Ganna (Ineos) leads the bunch onto the lower slopes of the climb, with Eddie Dunbar and Ivan Sosa not far behind him.

Almost immediately, the peloton is reduced to some 40 or so riders as Bora-Hansgrohe take up the reins.

The first attack from the main peloton comes from Ben Hermans (Israel Start-Ip Nation), who immediately opens a decent gap. 

-6km

Hermans settles into a rhythm around 150 metres or so ahead of the main peloton, where Richard Caparaz, Simon Yates, David de la Cruz, Alejandro Valverde and Eddie Dunbar occupy the leading positions.

Carapaz sets the pace in the main peloton that is continuing to jettison riders out the back. They are still within sight of Hermans and 2:40 down on Adria.

-5.6km

Simon Yates hits the front of the group of favourites and stretches things out. 2019 Vuelta a Burgos winner Ivan Sosa is dropped thanks to that acceleration. He had already been struggling near the back, but Yates' effort has whittled down the group still further. 

Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) have also lost contact under the force of Yates' pace-making, but the intensity drops a notch again and this might give them a chance to get back in contact.

-5km

Jack Haig takes over from Yates at the front and his effort looks to have definitively distanced Grossschartner. Meanwhile, Rodrigo Contreras (Astana) sets off alone in pursuit of Hermans and the lone leader Adria. 

Carapaz, Dunbar, De la Cruz, Evenepoel and Kuss are all still in this elite group of favourites, which is being led by the Mitchelton-Scott trio of Haig, Yates and Chaves. They are in the process of picking off the remnants of the earlier break.

Adria remains in front, with 1:50 in hand on the group of favourites and 2:30 on the struggling Grossschartner, who will lose the overall lead this afternoon.

-4km

The group of favourites have caught both Hermans and Contreras. They are 1:38 down on Adria as the gradient stiffens further. 

Alejandro Valverde has been distanced from this elite, Mitchelton-led group of a dozen or so riders, but Deceuninck-QuickStep's youngsters Almeida and Evenepoel are both still on board, as are Mikel Landa, Carapaz, Eddie Dunbar and George Bennett.

Jack Haig swings over after a typically impressive cameo, and now Mikel Nieve takes over for Mitchelton-Scott. Chaves and Simon Yates are on his wheel at the head of this reduced group.

-3.5km

Adria is battling gamely against the gradient. The youngster still has 1:15 in hand on the group of favourites.

The Nieve-led group is steadily picking off the remnants of the earlier break and closing inexorably in on Adria. There are only ten riders left in this group, including Yates, Chaves, Dunbar, Evenepoel, George Bennett, Almeida and Carapaz. 

-3km

Esteban Chaves attacks and is immediately followed by George Bennett and Evenepoel. This trio has a small gap over the rest of the group, though Carapaz is inching his way across.

Chaves, Bennett and Evenepoel are joined by Carapaz. Landa and Almeida are also on the cusp of latching back on...

Chaves kicks again and opens a small gap, but a very agile George Bennett is bridging across. Behind, Yates has lost ground but he is still pedalling rather well.

-2.3km

Adria's lead, meanwhile, is down to just a doezen seconds or so on Evenepoel, Chaves and Bennett... Carapaz and Almeida are next on the road, and the rest of the group of favourites has splintered into ones and twos...

-2km

Adria is caught and passed by Evenenpoel, Chaves and Bennett... Almost immediately, Evenepoel makes a seated acceleration and the Belgian has opened a gap. 

Evenepoel is alone at the head of the race. Chaves and Bennett are behind him, with Landa, Carapaz and Almeida a little further back.

-1.5km

Bennett is turning a rather heavier gear now as he battles to hold Chaves' wheel as they pursue Evenepoel. The Belgian looks to be pulling out a bigger gap. He looks over his shoulder to check on their progress then returns to the task in hand, his unzipped jersey flapping in the wind.

Evenepoel's lead over Chaves and Bennett is 20 seconds. He is going to win the stage and take the overall lead at Picon Blanco...

-1km

Into the final kilometre for Evenepoel, who has 24 seconds of an advantage over Chaves and Bennett. Behind them, Landa, Carapaz and Almeida have been joined by Aru and Hermans.

Evenepoel continues to pile on the pressure and his gap is up to 30 seconds. Landa has attacked from the third group and is bridging up to Chaves and Bennett.

Bennett has distanced Chaves with 600 metres to go, but the New Zealander isn't going to catch the flying Evenepoel, who is about to place a hefty down payment on final overall victory at the Vuelta a Burgos...

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos.

George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) is second at 18 seconds. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Merida) is third at 32 seconds, just ahead of Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott).

Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) takes an impressive 5th. Carapaz, Hermans and Aru are a further 10 seconds or so back.

Simon Yates comes in 1:12 down. The lone escapee Adria struggled in the finale but he crosses the line at 1:36.

Alejandro Valverde lost 2:11 on the final climb.

Evenepoel will take possession of the overall lead. The Belgian youngster didn'tm have time to zip up his jersey at the finish, but I can't imagine Deceuninck and QuickStep will want for publicity for as long as this rider wears their colours.

That's Evenepoel's sixth win of 2020, after a stage win and the overall at the Vuelta a San Juan and two stages and the overall at the Volta ao Algarve. He is 20 (twenty) years old.

Result

1 Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep 3:59:09
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:18
3 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:32
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:35
5 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:45
6 Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00:52
7 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Team Ineos 0:00:52
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:03
9 Joel Nicolau Beltran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:01:20
10 Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:20

General classification after stage 3

1 Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep 11:35:16
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:18
3 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:32
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:35
5 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:45
6 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Team Ineos 0:00:52
7 Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00:52
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:03
9 David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:33
10 Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:35

Remco Evenepoel speaks: “There was a lot of wind, especially in the last few kilometres. The last kilometre was really hard. I was already going flat out and there was a full headwind, but the wind was the same for everyone and I could hear my gap was increasing. For sure, without the team, I wouldn’t have achieved this victory. They kept me out of the wind all day and they brought me bottles. It was my job to finish it off, as a thank you to the team.

“The first goal was not to lose time. Then in my ear, the DS told me to try something because he could see on the television that I was still pretty fresh, and the others were suffering. I was on the limit, but if you don’t risk, you don’t win.

"It’s not in the pocket yet [for the GC], there are still two big days to go.”

ESPINOSA DE LOS MONTEROS SPAIN JULY 30 Arrival Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Celebration during the 42nd Vuelta a Burgos 2020 Stage 3 a 150km stage from Sargentes de la Lora to Espinosa de los Monteros Picn Blanco 1486m VueltaBurgos on July 30 2020 in Espinosa de Los Monteros Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Evenepoel has now won 11 races as a professional since he moved directly from junior racing to the WorldTour at the start of 2018. His lone WorldTour win came at least year's Clasica San Sebastian, but this might have been the toughest opposition he has faced to date, given the remarkable depth to this year's Vuelta a Burgos field. The 20-year-old dropped four Grand Tour winners on that final ascent.

George Bennett appeared to recoup some ground in the final 400 metres, and the New Zealander is the man best placed to challenge Evenepoel on Saturday's concluding stage to Lagunas de Neila. Before then, the Burgos peloton faces a flat stage 4 to Roa de Duero. 

ESPINOSA DE LOS MONTEROS SPAIN JULY 30 Arrival Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Celebration during the 42nd Vuelta a Burgos 2020 Stage 3 a 150km stage from Sargentes de la Lora to Espinosa de los Monteros Picn Blanco 1486m VueltaBurgos on July 30 2020 in Espinosa de Los Monteros Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

ESPINOSA DE LOS MONTEROS SPAIN JULY 30 Esteban Chaves of Colombia and Team MitcheltonScott Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Team Deceuninck QuickStep George Bennett of New Zealand and Team JumboVisma Picn Blanco 1486m during the 42nd Vuelta a Burgos 2020 Stage 3 a 150km stage from Sargentes de la Lora to Espinosa de los Monteros Picn Blanco 1486m VueltaBurgos on July 30 2020 in Espinosa de Los Monteros Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Esteban Chaves had this to say after placing 4th on the stage: "It was an awesome test for everyone. The team did a really awesome job today, we raced like one unit and at the end we attacked from four kilometres to the finish line. At the start it was a question mark for everyone in the peloton about how it would be, but now everything is clearer and for Saturday’s final stage it will be different how everyone approaches the final climb."

Mitchelton-Scott directeur sportif Matt White, meanwhile, has conceded that it will be difficult in the extreme to deny Remco Evenepoel final overall victory: "Realistically Remco is going to be very hard to beat but if we can move up one place onto the podium that would be a very good result and Esteban is very familiar with that final climb on the last day.”

Result

1 Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep 3:59:09
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:18
3 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:32
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:35
5 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:45
6 Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00:52
7 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Team Ineos 0:00:52
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:03
9 Joel Nicolau Beltran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:01:20
10 Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:20

General classification

1 Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep 11:35:16
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:18
3 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:32
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:35
5 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:45
6 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Team Ineos 0:00:52
7 Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00:52
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:03
9 David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:33
10 Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:35

In the day's other news, the full route of the revised and rescheduled 2020 Giro d'Italia has been presented, with an additional mountaintop finish at Roccaraso on stage 9. It's a finale that may well prove to Giro debutant Remco Evenepoel's liking... Full details here.

The map of the 2020 Giro d'Italia

(Image credit: RCS Sport)

In breaking news, the UCI has thrown out Rohan Dennis' claim for financial compensation against his former team Bahrain-McLaren. More on the story here.

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Vuelta a Burgos today on Cyclingnews. A full report, results and pictures from today's stage are available here. We'll be back with more live coverage tomorrow and in the meantime, Alasdair Fotheringham will have all the news and reaction from Burgos.

ESPINOSA DE LOS MONTEROS SPAIN JULY 30 Podium Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Purple Leader Jersey Celebration Trophy during the 42nd Vuelta a Burgos 2020 Stage 3 a 150km stage from Sargentes de la Lora to Espinosa de los Monteros Picn Blanco 1486m VueltaBurgos on July 30 2020 in Espinosa de Los Monteros Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

ESPINOSA DE LOS MONTEROS SPAIN JULY 30 Podium Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Purple Leader Jersey Celebration Trophy during the 42nd Vuelta a Burgos 2020 Stage 3 a 150km stage from Sargentes de la Lora to Espinosa de los Monteros Picn Blanco 1486m VueltaBurgos on July 30 2020 in Espinosa de Los Monteros Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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