On only his third day as a stagiaire for AG2R Citroën, Bastien Tronchon took a surprise victory on stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos in Villarcayo. The 20-year-old outsprinted Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) after surviving from the early breakaway over the harsh ascent of the Picón Blanco.
Tronchon, who hadn't taken part in a professional race before heading to Burgos, followed the GC-motivated Sivakov to the finish. After sticking to Sivakov's wheel on the final climbs of the day, Tronchon waited to hit the wind until the final metres of the 156km stage to grab a famous debut victory.
Meanwhile, Sivakov, who attacked 39km out on the Picón Blanco, ascended to the race lead as he and Tronchon crossed the line 28 seconds up on the peloton. Alejandro Valverde led the peloton home for third place, his Movistar team having failed to contribute to the chase behind the two leaders.
Sivakov now leads the race overall by 23 seconds from former leader Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious), while Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EasyPost), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), and Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) are next in line a further three seconds down.
How it unfolded
The third stage of the Vuelta a Burgos started with eight riders fewer than had finished stage 2, the horrific mass crash in the final kilometre having taken its toll on the peloton.
For those who were able to continue, the attacking came from the start of stage 3. However, it would be some time before the break of the day was formed. It wasn't until around 45km into the stage before a group established itself out in front.
Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) led the way, the Italian joined in the break by Tronchon, Jesús Ezquerra (Burgos-BH), Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), and Vojtech Repa (Kern Pharma).
Soon after that group jumped away, Ibai Azurmendi (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Edward Ravasi (Eolo-Kometa) set off to bridge across, making it seven men out front after a couple of kilometres of chasing.
The pair wouldn't last too long in the move, however, dropping from the break on the rolling roads long before Picón Blanco. Meanwhile, the survivors held an advantage of 4:30 heading into the day's main difficulty, which measured in at 8km at 9.2%.
As Bahrain Victorious controlled the situation behind for the race leader Buitrago, time triallist Affini was the first man dropped from the breakaway. Ezquerra was next, and then Tronchon yo-yoed at the back as the climb went on.
With 40km to go, Tronchon dropped away seemingly for good as Nicolau and Repa pushed on alone up front. Further back, meanwhile, Ineos and Sivakov were cooking up their move as Geoghegan Hart jumped first with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) on his wheel.
A kilometre later, and with that move brought back, Sivakov was going it alone in what would prove to be a race-altering attack. The 25-year-old drew out Miguel Angel López (Astana Qazaqstan), the pair eventually making it across to Nicolau and Repa during the fog-filled early stages of the descent.
On the way down, the situation changed again, as López and Repa struggled to stay in touch while Tronchon rode an impressive descent to get back up to Sivakov and Nicolau.
What followed on the flat roads, with EF and Bora-Hansgrohe chasing 1:10 behind, was a slow wearing down of Nicolau as Sivakov pushed on at the head of the leading trio. The Spaniard blew on an unclassified climb 15km from the line, while López and Repa were back in the peloton at the 10km mark.
The time gap finally came under a minute on the Alto de Bocos, 8km out, with Guerreiro putting in an ineffective attack on the way up while Tronchon doggedly hung on to Sivakov.
The young Frenchman eventually would take several turns, all inside the final 3km of the day, though didn't waste his energy ahead of a two-up sprint finish.
There, while Sivakov might not have taken as much time as he might've expected a few kilometres earlier, both men could walk away happy with the result. Tronchon came away with a win few, least of all, he, would have expected, while Sivakov now looks in a strong position to race to overall victory on Lagunas de Neila on Saturday.
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