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Vuelta a España 2015: Stage 3


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Vuelta a España. Stage 3 takes the riders 164.6 kilometres from Mijas to Málaga in what is likely to culminate in a bunch sprint. 


The riders have come to the end of the neutral zone and the flag has just dropped on stage 3 of the Vuelta. 

After an early flurry of action the peloton seems to have given the green light to a group of eight breakaway hopefuls. They have over two minutes on the bunch as they prepare for the lower slopes of the category 3 Alto de Mijas.

148km remaining from 158km

This is what's in store today:

BMC are a man lighter on the road today with Marcus Burghardt an overnight abandon. The German came down in the mass pile-up yesterday and has been advised to return home to have some tests on his injured knee. 

Orica-GreenEdge lead the bunch on the early slopes of the third-cat Alto de Migas. They'll be interested in making sure of a bunch sprint to tee up neo-pro Caleb Ewan. 

The breakaway riders have a steady lead of around three minutes as they near the summit of the Alto de Migas and its gradients of over 7 per cent. That gap will have to be far far greater at the top of the Puerto del León if they are to have any chance of upsetting the sprinters today.

The big story from yesterday's stage was Vincenzo Nibali being disqualified from the race for getting a tow from a team car. The Sicilian has responded to the incident in defiant fashion, apologising but also saying he felt abandoned by his Astana team. You can read the full story here:

Fraile leads the escapees over the first climb of the day, with Chavanel and Berhane behind him. Pedraza is currently wearing the spotted jersey of mountains classification leader but does not pick up any points. The upcoming first-category climb will be more valuable in that regard. 

The best-placed rider on GC in this breakaway is Berhane, who started the day 3:02 back on race leader Esteban Chaves. With the gap to the peloton currently at 3:07 the Eritrean is the virtual maillot rojo.

The gap has been brought down to just under 2:30 thanks to the work of GreenEdge. They must be keen today to look for what would be a breakthrough win for Ewan. The 21-year-old has had a great neo-pro season but a win at this level, in this company, would be a real statement. 

Speaking of sprinters, most who aren't at the Vuelta were battling it out in Hamburg yesterday at the Vattenfalls Cyclassics. André Greipel took the spoils there while Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff, and Marcel Kittel were all left disappointed. Here's some of our coverage from the race:

Nacer Bouhanni drops back to his Cofidis team car with a slight technical problem. The Frenchman would ordinarily be among the favourites for today but he hurt his knee in the crash yesterday. He told he was up for it today but his DS said it might be wiser to wait for another day. Will we see him take it on and, if so, can he pull it off?

The riders covered 35 kilometres in the first hour of racing. They've almost finished descending and the road will soon flatten out for the approach to Málaga. 

Paolo Tiralongo has just abandoned the race. 

Tiralongo was one of the riders most severely affected by yesterday's huge crash. The Astana man had nasty cuts and bruises to his face and after trying to plough on has been dropped and finally forced to pull the plug. 

Yesterday's crash may have led to Nibali - and a potential leadership issue - being taken out of the picture but, it has also cost Fabio Aru a key support rider in his quest for the overall win. 

Meanwhile in the race, the breakaway's lead had started to grow out again, and now stands at over four minutes. We're nearly in Málaga and soon after the peloton will start climbing again, this time on the first-category Puerto del León. 

While the more experienced pros make their way around Spain, the Tour de l'Avenir is currently showcasing the talents of the younger riders. One such prospect is Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria, and Cyclingnews caught up with him at the race. You can read the story here:

The eight leaders have just come through Málaga for the first time. They'll be back there for the business end of the stage but attentions now turn to the first-category Puerto del León.

The Puerto del León is 16 kilometres long, an average gradient of just over 5% but with some sections well over 10%. Let's see how the sprinters' teams handle it. 

Fabian Cancellara won't be enjoying this. He's been struggling with illness and finished second last yesterday behind Tiralongo. Here's what he had to say this morning:

The breakaway's lead ducks under four minutes as the gradients of this climb take their toll. 

Here's our full story on Paolo Tiralongo abandoning the Vuelta a España:

The Puerto del León is not exactly shaking things up here. The gap between the eight men out front and the peloton is still around four minutes. As we near the top, Giant-Alpecin put some men on the front as they think about propelling John Degenkolb to victory in Málaga. 

The break's lead is dropping back towards three minutes here. The sprinters' teams will be happy with how things are playing out. There's a small climb as we get to Málaga to the finish but they should be confident of dealing with that too. 

Martin Velits is in trouble on the final part of this climb and has been dropped from the break. 

Omar Fraile leads the break over the summit of the Puerto del León, as he did on the Alto de Migas. As such, he's earned himself the right to wear the polka dot jersey for leader of the mountains classification tomorrow. The man currently wearing it, Walter Pedraza, crested third with Natnael Berhane second. 

We have a lengthy descent now off the mountain and Chavanel wants to make the most of his downhill skills. The Frenchman has taken off at the front of the race. 

It's back together in the break as the road heads upwards again. This is not an all-out descent and the road does kick back up again in places. 

68km remaining from 158km

Tinkoff-Saxo are driving things at the head of the peloton. Peter Sagan was caught up in the crash yesterday and is more focused on preparing himself for the Worlds next month, but might be fancying his chances today. 

Things have broken up somewhat out front. Some riders have been dropped from the break and there is now a group of four leading the race: Fraile, Chavanel, Tjallingi, and Gougeard. 

“Nibali should get his story straight”

Berhane and Pedraza have made it back into the break but the peloton are now little over 1:30 in arrears. Tinkoff-Saxo and Orica-GreenEdge still the most interested parties in the bunch. 

Tjallingi attacks! The Lotto rider heads off the front but after a brief spot of panic behind he is pegged back.

Meanwhile Koshevoy is still struggling to get back on. He's hanging about 20 seconds behind but the peloton are gaining all the time. 

48km remaining from 158km

Koshevoy has been swallowed up by the bunch, who are still around 1:20 back on our six leaders. 

There were encouraging signs for Chris Froome yesterday. Alasdair Fotheringham caught up with the Tour de France champion this morning and has sent in this report.

Crash! There's a small spill in the bunch with Daniele Bennati and Nacer Bouhanni hitting the deck. That's the second crash in two days for the Frenchman, who's back on his bike without too much fuss.

The riders hit the south coast of Spain once again at Torre del Mar. As they head back along the coast towards Málaga, Tinkoff-Saxo are still driving things on the front of the bunch but the gap is still stable at 1:20. 

Sagan's men will want to make life difficult for Bouhanni, who has lost contact after his crash and is currently being paced back to the peloton by two Cofidis teammates. 

Chavanel leads through the intermediate sprint point at Torre del Mar and is followed by Tjallingii and Gougeard, but the important sprint will be coming up in 34 kilometres' time. 

Bouhanni gets back on the peloton but as he does so he sees Peter Sagan go past the other way. The Slovak drops back to the team car for a bottle and a few words. 

Gougeard puts the hammer down and his high pace sees him go clear of his breakaway companions. Tjallingi manages to bridge across and the duo have some 15 seconds advantage. 

Bennati is back in the bunch, but not without a patch of red raw skin showing through a rip in his bib shorts. 

The game is up for the rest of the breakaway riders. Fragile, Chavanel, Berhane, and Pedraza are caught by the bunch and we now have just two riders out front with a lead of 1:30 over the Tinkoff-led peloton. 

The game is up for the rest of the breakaway riders. Fraile, Chavanel, Berhane, and Pedraza are caught by the bunch and we now have just two riders out front with a lead of 1:30 over the Tinkoff-led peloton. 

20km remaining from 158km

There are still two Tinkoff men on the front of the peloton. The red jersey of Esteban Chaves is tucked behind a couple of his own Orica-GreenEdge men. 

The leaders are still ploughing on, despite the odds being stacked against them. They have been doing a remarkable job of holding off the chasing bunch but the gap has now ducked under a minute.

16km remaining from 158km

Tjallingi is caught and it's now all together. The riders will soon be taking on a short climb, which shouldn't shake things up too much.

There's calm in the peloton as we head into the final 10km. The riders are on a wide highway and there are no fresh attacks coming. 

I knew that would happen. As I write about the calm in the peloton, Cyril Gautier conspires to contradict me by taking a flyer off the front. He has a small gap but an even smaller chance of staying clear to the line. 

7km remaining from 158km

They will head downhill into a relatively complicated final 5 kilometres. There are three 90-degree bends between 4 and 3 kilometres and then a 270-degree loop round into the final kilometre. 

Here's the profile for the last 5km

The GC teams are at the front at the moment as they look to make it into that magic 3 kilometre to go safe zone. 

3km remaining from 158km

2km remaining from 158km

Big looping bend coming up now as Giant stay on the front leading towards the flamme rouge. 

Flamme rouge - here we go! Sagan, Degenkolb in there

Degenkolb goes!

Sagan comes through to take the win!

Bouhanni third

Bouhanni comes through for second with Degenkolb having to settle for third. 

Degenkolb was the first to open up his sprint on the right, Sagan lost his wheel temporarily and had to come round the Giant lead-out man but easily had the pace to overhaul the German. Bouhanni launched a charge of his own on the left but couldn't catch the Slovak. 

What a win for Sagan, after all those near misses at the Tour de France! He might have one eye on the world championships next month but the Vuelta has just given him a first Grand Tour stage win in over two years. 

Here's the top-10 on stage 3

General Classification after stage 3

We understand that Nairo Quintana should be there in sixth place on GC. There seems to have been an error stemming from the fact that the Colombian changed bikes earlier on but he finished safely in the bunch. 

Fabian Cancellara has been forced to abandon the race as his stomach problems show no signs of getting better. 

Here's what stage winner Peter Sagan had to say:

Esteban Chaves maintained his overall lead. Here's what he had to say:

Here is the revised GC, amended to include Nairo Quintana in his rightful place. 

That's it for our live coverage today. Make sure to keep your eyes on for all the latest from our reporters out in Spain.

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