Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage three of the Vuelta a Espana.
Stage 2 report: Meersman wins first sprint finish
Hello and welcome to our full coverage of stage three from Marin to Dumbría and the first mountain finish at Mirador de Ézaro. Today's stage is 176.4km long.
The stage is due to start in half an hour, with the riders already gathering for the start.
It's hot out there, with some riders signing on with ice packs in their jerseys to help stay cool.
Today's stage follows the coastline for much of the day, with 3000m of climbing, much if it packed i to the final 60km.
Of course everyone is thinking about the steep finish on the Mirador de Ézaro clmib. It is only 1.8km long but very, very steep, with an average gradient of 13.8% and some sections at a leg breaking 30%.
It will be a battle for the stage victory and also be vital for the overall contenders not to lose time.
It will be a real test for Chris Froome (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and all the other contenders.
It will be fascinating to see what the likes of Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates of Orica can do on the steep but short climb.
@Ride_Argyle Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 10:52:16
As the riders gather at the start Michal Kwiatkowski wears the leader's red jersey after finishing fourth on stage two and winning the opening TTT with Team Sky.
From the Cyclingnews blimp we can see the riders rolling out from the start for the 176.4km stage.
They do a loop around the town and then begin to follow the coast north.
As the riders rolled out they were given a military escort from the sailors along the roadside.
The flag will soon drop and the real racing will begin.
They're off!!! The flag has been dropped and the race is live!
Thanks to winning stage 2, Meersman wears the green points jersey today.
@Etixx_QuickStep Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 11:20:22
Here's Gianni on the podium in the green jersey.
Here's a great shot of Meersman winning Sunday's stage.
The mountains competition jersey at the Vuelta awards a blue polka-dot jersey. Laurent Pichon (FDJ) leads that competition after also being the most aggressive rider but we don't expect him to keep it today due to the tough finish atop the Mirador de Ézaro.
To catch up on Meermans' stage victory and all the images of the stage, click here to read our full report and study the full results.
Back to the race and we have our first attack: Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural) tried to get away but he was quickly pulled back.
At the same but at the back of the peloton, Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) has a mechanical problem and so needs to chase the high-speed peloton.
166km remaining from 176km
After a fast start to the day, Talansky will need some help from his teammates.
Up front there is another attack, with eight riders going clear. Will the peloton let then go?
The eight lead by 100m or so, 15 seconds.
However the 8 are quickly caught and four riders jump away, trying to form the break of the day. It's a super fast stage so far.
Now on the attack are Smukulis, Pellaud, Cousin and Arroyo.
The four now lead by 25 seconds. This could be the early move of the day.
The four now lead by 35 seconds, with Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Pieter Serry (Etixx - Quick Step) and Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon18) chasing them.
The peloton seems to have eased up. the gap is up to 1:00.
The seven riders have come together up front. They are: Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Pieter Serry (Etixx-Quick Step), Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Simon Pellaud (IAM Cycling), Jérôme Cousin (Cofidis) and David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).
The teams behind are now studying the names of the riders up front and trying to decide if they are a threat overall or contenders for the stage victory.
Some teams will be ready to chase if they think they can win the stage. The likes of Movistar, Tinkoff, Orica and others will be focused on the GC fight.
Team Sky will have to pick up the chase with Kwiatkowski in the red jersey but they will also try to play bluff and force other teams to at least help them with the chase.
151km remaining from 176km
The break has taken flight. The gap is up to 1: 50.
@Etixx_QuickStep Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 11:51:59
We've updated our Situation box on the right side of the live page to name all of the seven riders in the break. We post the time gaps and riders in action in the Situation.
Pellaud is only 1:13 down on Kwiatkowski in the GC and so the IAM rider is the virtual race leader out on the road.
This is the profile of today's third stage. As you can see the climbing comes in the final 60km, with the steep climb to the finish kicking up at the end.
143km remaining from 176km
The gap remains steady at 2:20, as Team Sky ride tempo and try to keep the seven under control.
@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 11:58:09
The riders are now riding along the stunning Atlantic coastline. It's going to be difficult for them to stay focused on the twisting roads. Winds could be a factor but the weather is warm and sunny today in northern Spain.
The gap continues to rise and is now at 2:50.
The riders are following the Atlantic coast but it is still hot out there, with reported temperatures of 33C.
Is Monday's summit finish the Vuelta a Espana's steepest ever?
That's the question Alasdair Fotheringham asked during our preview and analysis of today's stage finish.
The Vuelta reached the finish for the first time in 2012, with the stage won by uphill finish specialist Joaquim Rodriguez, who extended his overall lead ahead of Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Robert Gesink.
Chris Froome, fifth - like all of the top finishers barring the recently retired Rodriguez in this year's race - was dropped early on and lost 23 seconds on the ascent to 'Purito'.
Ezaro formed part of the Vuelta route again in 2013, on a first week stage finishing on the coast in Fisterre, but was too far from the end of the stage to have much impact overall.
Back in 2012, Galician former pro Ezequiel Mosquera recounted to the Faro de Vigo newspaper that "This climb has a segment of 300 metres which is more than tough, it's impossible."
Mosquera recounted that the first riders to tackle the climb was a local club, the CC Noia in the early 1990s, using a 39x23 gear. However "most of them went up on foot - on foot and backwards, because it was impossible to go up walking forwards!"
Time differences are not likely to be huge, given that less than 30 seconds separated the top five last year. But it's worth noting that the top three in Ezaro were the top three finishers in Madrid two weeks later, too - and this year, the Galician summit finish could well provide vital clues towards the shape of the rest of the Vuelta.
@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 12:20:34
To read Alasdair Fotheringham's detailed and informative stage preview, click here.
The break of seven riders is slowly extending its lead by working smoothly together. All have something to gain by trying to stay away and perhaps holding off the overall contenders and best climbers on the Mirador de Ézaro.
It's going to be an interesting pursuit match later in the stage.
The first hour of racing today was covered at an average speed of 45.4km/h. That indicates how fast it as before the break got a gap.
It will be fascinating to see how Alberto Contador performs today. He was second on the finish in 2012 but this year is racing after crashing and quitting the Tour de France.
He will be fresh but will he be on form?
Contador is also racing with a handicap after losing 52 seconds in a terrible TTT on Saturday.
"As I said, I will take the race day-by-day and stay calm," Contador said after Sunday's stage.
"We saw yesterday that there are stronger teams than ours. They built a big advantage and it will be difficult to overcome it. Tomorrow (Monday), we will see how we do and after the stage we will make an assessment."
To read Contador's full reaction after stage 2, click here.
With 2012 stage winner Purito Rodriguez not racing as he gradually ends his season and career, many people are tipping Esteban Chaves of Orica to win today.
He is an excellent climber and could have the acceleration and power to stay away on the steep climb to the finish.
@BMCProTeam Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 12:35:01
Team Sky continues to lead the peloton, keeping the break of seven riders under control.
111km remaining from 176km
However the gap continues to rise after 65km of racing. It's up to 4:40 now. The peloton is no doubt hoping the climbs in the final 60km of the stage will make the breakaway riders suffer.
Britain's Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) could be a contender today on the climb to the finish. However he suggested via the team's Twitter feed that the short climb suits the more explosive climbers. His tip: Alejandro Valverde.
“It finishes with a really explosive climb that is about 2km long and with a 14% gradient. I think we’ll see the explosive climber people like Valverde up there. Riders like Froome won’t be much behind either,” he predicted.
“For us today I think we have a good shot with Jose and Pejo. I think they’re the two riders we have the best chance win.”
Carthy referred to José Gonçalves and Pello Bilbao as the Caja Rural riders to watch.
Back out on the road, Team Sky is still setting the pace in the peloton, but the gap has edged over 5:00.
It seems that Caja Rural didn't intend to put a rider in the break today but Arroyo had other plans and jumped into the move. Perhaps the veteran Spaniard can stay away and win the stage. We will find out later.
Team Sky has experienced domestique Christian Knees doing much of the work on the front of the peloton. Kwiatkowski is also up front and helping out despite being race leader.
If Chris Froome does not lose too much time then he is likely to take the red jersey this evening.
Froome spoke to Eurosport before the start of the stage about his memories of the climb and his hopes for today.
“The last time we were here in 2012, I can remember it being a really tough climb, at more than 20% in some sections. At the end of a hot stage, there’s going to be some differences between main contenders” he said.
Froome was hesitant about his chances of taking the red leader’s jersey.
“There’s a lot of guys quite close, the guys from Movistar could do well,” Froome predicted. “It all depends on the breakaway. It’d be really cool to have another guy in the red. It’s been great for us having Pete and Michal Kwiatkowski in red so far.
@TrekSegafredo Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 13:10:15
The team manager of breakaway rider Alex Geniez, Thierry Bricaud, told the Vuelta website that it is Kenny Elissonde who is better suited to today's finish rather than Ganiez.
"You take the hardest part of the Mur de Huy and you'll know what this climb looks like. For us, the most apt rider to do well is Kenny Elissonde. Alexandre Geniez is more in the mood of losing time to make it clear he's not going for the GC."
89km remaining from 176km
Team Sky as this well under control at the moment. With the help of the Tinkoff team, they are keeping the gap to the escapees at just over five minutes.
The leaders are on a short unclassified climb at the moment. The stage has been reasonably flat until this point but that is going to change very quickly very soon. The first classified climb will appear in front of the riders in a touch over 20 kilometres.
Alberto Contado is sitting fifth in line at the front of the peloton behind Christian Knees for Sky and three of his teammates. The Spaniard is extremely cautious about losing any more time in this first week. Contador knows the final climb coming up today after finishing second on it in 2012 behind Joaquim Rodriguez, who is not at the race after retiring from cycling.
@friebos Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 13:28:36
After two hours of racing the average speed is 43.3kph.
75km remaining from 176km
That pace is obviously too much for Ganiez who has dropped off the breakaway group for now. Is that him done for the day or will he be able to make it back?
@LottoJumbo_road Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 13:38:54
The peloton passing through the feed zone. Contador has one of his teammates collect a musette for him so that he doesn't have to take the risk. The feed zone can be one of the most dangerous parts of the day with flying bidons, dodgy collection and plenty of riders moving about making it a tricky task.
Warren Barguil becomes the first abandon of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana. The Frenchman was reportedly suffering from sinusitis ahead of the race and today's heat could not have helped.
Philippe Gilbert is just 4 seconds down in the overall classification and is within touching distance of the leader's jersey. He says it's a tough ask for him but he's going to give it a go.
"I did this climb two times and it Is very hard. I think that on paper it is too hard for me because it is very steep, over 30 per cent in some parts. I’m more than 10 kilos heavier than some of these climbers so for me I am always suffering a lot," he told TV ahead of the start.
"This year is different I think because we have some climbs before and I think there will be a big selection. I expect 50 guys maximum at the bottom of the last climb. That means that the fight is less and maybe it will be a different final. It is still early in this Vuelta and everybody is still fighting because if you win a stage then you almost always have a jersey and I think that every stage in the first week is important. It’s going to be hard for me but I’m going to try.
Gilbert is rightly tentative about his chances today. The Belgian lost almost a minute to the winner on this climb in 2012.
Back up front and Geniez is back with the leaders, in time for the ascent of the Alto de Lestaio.
Meanwhile, there is a crash in the peloton but it seems that everyone is ok and they're back on their bikes.
The bunch spreads across the narrow road as they hit the Alto de Lestaio. Movistar and LottoNL-Jumbo are appearing at the front.
Bonfiazio and Bevin were involved in that incident and they have managed to make it up to the main group on that climb.
61km remaining from 176km
At the head of affairs Jerome Cousin and Simon Pellaud have gone on the attack. They've got a reasonable gap on their escape companions.
Serry and Geniez have fought their way up to the two leaders as Pellaud has another dig off the front and immediately distances Geniez.
59km remaining from 176km
Pellaud is now alone while Geniez is now with the three chasers. The gap between Pellaud and the peloton is growing and now stands at 5:35.
Pellaud is still pushing on up this very steep climb, but Geniez is trying to chase him down. It seems that the Swiss rider will take the KOM points here though.
Pellaud takes the points and is now equal at the top of the mountains classification with three points. There are five points available at the top of the next climb, giving him a chance to take the lead outright. He is now some six minutes ahead of the bunch.
Pellaud now has a short flatter section before the climbing begins again.
Despite today only being the third stage, we have a big-name retirement, with Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) quitting the Vuelta.
It seems that the talented Frenchman was suffering with sinus problems.
49km remaining from 176km
Pellaud is still going all out to hold onto his lead. He swaps from left to right to try to catch a motorbike slipstream.
Next up for the breakaways is the cat 2 climb of Alto das Paxareiras. climb. It comes with 21km to go.
@BoraArgon18 Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 14:31:59
45km remaining from 176km
Behind Pellaud the remains of the break are still fighting to stay away but the road is rolling along the coastline.
The six are now 1:10 behind Pellaud.
In the peloton the big-name overall contenders are looking cool as they count down the kilometres to the showdown on the Mirador de Ézaro climb.
Pellaud is really going for it up front. He's only 23 but is giving it everything.
As the roads descends, Pellaud touches closes to 90km/h. but he will face a 5km flat section and then hit the climb.
Unfortunately for him the climb is 9.3km long at 5.4%. He will perhaps lose a chunk of time there.
Team Sky is still leading the peloton, with the whole team riding on the front, with Movistar tucked on their wheels.
Pellaud also dives through a fast corner. He's taking lots of risks to stay away.
Esteban Chaves (Orica) spoke briefly to Eurosport before the start of the stage.
“It’s a difficult stage. Purito won and showed how hard it is to win up there,” he said.
“Starting the climb from the front positions will be vital. If I feel good I’ll have a good if not I’ll have to ride more defensively. I’m here to do well good overall and to try to win stages.”
28km remaining from 176km
Others teams are now helping with the chase in the peloton as the Cat 2 climb approaches.
The 9.3km climb will no doubt impact the race but could prove to be tough for the peloton too. A lot of riders could be distanced very soon.
@BMCProTeam Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 14:51:39
Behind Pellaud, Smukulis and Serry have attacked to try to go across the gap. both are good climbers and are trying to win the stage.
Indeed the peloton seems to have eased up. The peloton is about to throw in the towel on trying to win the stage. however we could still see some attacks to try to gain a few seconds on their GC rivals.
Pellaud is on the Alto das Paxareiras and enjoying the shade of the trees. He's giving it everything and keeping a good tempo but is spinning a low gear.
Behind the break is splitting up on the climb, as is the peloton, as the sprinters and other climbers are dropped.
The IAM team car comes up to Pellaud but can offer little help. It is the young Swiss rider against the world at the moment, as he tries to stay away, win the stage and secure himself a contract for 2017 after the demise of IAM.
It's 35C out there today. With 150km raced, it all makes for a hard day out after the opening TTT and the flat stage 2.
Pellaud is really grinding his gears now as he fights the gradient. He is not far from the top but he's losing time.
@Etixx_QuickStep Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 15:08:35
Geniez (FDJ) is also chasing with Serry. They're a serious threat to Pellaud.
Indeed Serry and Geniez have caught the young Swiss rider and he is quickly dropped.
It was a brave attack by Pellaud but perhaps far too audacious.
@AlexandreMignot Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 15:12:30
The others breakaways are further back and so it seems Serry and Geniez are well placed for the final 20km and the steep final climb.
The peloton is 3:40 back. Is that enough for the two to stay away and fight for stage victory. It will be close.
16km remaining from 176km
The peloton has reached the top of the climb and start the fast descent. It's going to be fast now, all the way until 1.8km to go, when the road kicks up.
@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 15:19:00
The flat roads before the climb will be almost as intense as the climb itself as the riders and teams fight for position.
There are reports that the hard stage is hurting Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and that the American is slightly off the back of the peloton.
Upfront Pellaud has fought his way back up to Geniez and Serry on the descent. He's not giving up just yet.
11km remaining from 176km
The peloton is 3:30 back. Is that enough for the three to stay away?
9km remaining from 176km
The three riders up front are close to the start of the climb. They will go from riding at 50km/h to grinding up the 14% climb in 36x30. It will hurt.
The three are all working, include a brave Pellaud, but the peloton is chasing them, with Team Sky back on the front.
The steep climb overlooks the same coast road the riders are on at the moment. It is a spectacular climb, short at just 1.8km but steep, with some corners at 30%.
The road surface is also made from concrete, with the surface roughened to give vehicles some extra grip.
7km remaining from 176km
It seems a touch of wheels scattered the peloton. Lopez of Astana is down and in pain.
@TeamDiData Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 15:34:35
Boswell, Puccio and Kennaugh are leading the Sky train up front in pursuit of the break of three.
5km remaining from 176km
Lopez seems the worst off in the crash but the race goes on. Everybody else is focused on the rapidly approaching finish.
Lopez seemed to land on his face.
3km remaining from 176km
The climb will start in 1km. The three up front are now playing games before the gradient kicks in. We will soon see who is strongest.
Some riders will have gears as low as 36x32. One of those granny-gearers is Fabio Felline of Trek.
Kwaitkowski is leading the peloton to the foot of the climb.
The break is already on the climb as the gradient begins to hurt.
Pellaud is the first to be dropped but Serry cracks too as Geniez tries to go clear.
1km remaining from 176km
The peloton is 1:00 behind as Geniez hits the final km point.
There are huge crowds on the steepest hairpins.
Behind there is no sign of Team Sky as Movistar and Chaves take control.
Geniez is fighting the steep gradient, he's suffering like crazy but should hold on to win the stage.
The climb is only short but it has caused serious damage behind.
400m to go and Geniez leads by 45 seconds. Can he stay away?
Here he comes!
Geniez does it, he crosses the line first with his jersey open.
Behind the peloton is split. Contador is going to lose close more time to his big rivals.
Other riders are further back. The 1.8km climb has caused serious damage.
Kruijswijk also lost big time, finishing close to 2:00 back on Geniez.
Froome did better, finishing fourth on the stage at 26 seconds, in the same time as Valverde.
Movistar’s Ruben Fernandez got permission to attack from his two leaders and followed Geniez in for second place at 21 seconds back, enough to secure him the race lead.
This is the provisional top ten stage result.
Check out the time gaps!
1 Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ 4:28:36
2 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:21
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:26
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
5 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:32
7 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data
8 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:54
9 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team
10 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step
Esteban Chaves also finished at 6 seconds, in the same tine as Valverde and Froome. Quintana was six seconds behind, with Igor Anton (Dimension Data) at the same time.
It was difficult to see when Contador cracked but he finished with Sammy Sanchez (BMC) at 54 seconds. He's lost another chunk of time.
According to provisional results, Fernandez now leads Valverde by 7 seconds, with Froome third overall at 11 seconds. Chaves is fourth at 17 seconds.
That was a classic Vuelta finish: steep and nasty, and producing some interesting if small time gaps.
@Etixx_QuickStep Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 15:55:11
@tinkoff_team Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 15:54:49
Before the stage and at the finish, the UCI carried out checks for hidden motors with their famous tablet device. No word on the results yet.
This is the new top ten.
1 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 9:16:07
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:07
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:11
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:17
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:17
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:46
7 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:47
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:00:51
9 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:58
10 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:01
It's a great victory for Geniez, who confirmed just a week ago that he will ride for AG2R-La Mondiale for 2017 and 2018.
Geniez steps onto the podium with a huge smile on his face. He will also take the blue polka-dot jersey after his ride to the first summit finish of this Vuelta.
@inrng Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 16:08:18
@Ride_Argyle Mon, 22nd Aug 2016 16:07:26
That was a tough first mountain finish. The climb was only 1.8km long but shook up the race.
Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) was one of the big names to lose time.
“I was really bad. On the final climb I couldn’t do anything, so I lost a lot of time I think. Now we’ll have to wait and see how I recover. This is not the normal level I have so I don’t know…” he told Eurosport after the finish.
“I was a little bit sick before the race and so maybe I have to come in and find my form. It was a really hot day and I was suffering on the last bit, I couldn’t do anymore.”
Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) crossed the finish line with his arms in the air after taking the leader’s red jersey.
“I’m delighted to have the red jersey. We’ve been working so hard and I honestly didn’t expect to have this jersey today. In the end we went for it and we got it," he told Eurosport.
“We thought to control the finish, even if we knew Sky would be there too, and then in the end our plan worked out. Now we’ll see what happens tomorrow."
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) also spoke briefly before riding town the climb to the team bus. Despite riding his third grand tour of the season, he looked strong on the climb.
"We are in good shape, we showed that in the time trial and it is great that Fernandez gets to wear this jersey," he said.
"We were busy controlling everything and we were controlling the final climb and we said to Ruben just go and we just followed on with Chaves."
There was so much to understand from today's stage in the context of the rest of the Vuelta.
Will Movistar be so strong and so strong in numbers for the rest of the race?
What has happened to Alberto Contador and can he perhaps still go on the attack and turn his Vuelta a around.
Team Sky rode strong as a team but then Froome had dig deep to limit his losses. What will happen later on?
For full details of today stage and our photo gallery, click here to read our full report.
Thanks for joining us for full live coverage of stage 3 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Join us tomorrow for more live coverage and check cyclingnews.com for exclusive news, interviews and photo galleries.
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