Welcome to the Pais Vasco! Today will be another hard-fought day in the mountains.
The third stage of the Vuelta Cyclist al Pais Vasco takes us 194.5km from Vitoria to Gasteiz-Lesaka.
We join the race just as the riders start up the first climb of the day, the cat 3. Alto de Uitzi, 2 km long and an average gradient of 7.6%.
After only 8 km, a group of five got away: Biel Kadri (AG2R), Stefan Denifl (IAM), Domingos Goncalves (Caja Rural), Sam Oomen (Giant-Alpecin) and Daniel Tekelhaimanot (Dimension Data). They have built up a comfortable lead of up to 5:20.
We have 5 ranked climbs, with the last one 9 km before the finish.
Alto de Uitzi, cat 3, km 94.5
Alto de Usategieta, cat 2, km 104.7
Alto de Aritxulegi, cat 2, km 164.9
Alto de Agina, cat 2, km 173.3
Alto de la Piedad, cat 3, km 184.4
After the final climb, they hit the flat again at km 186.9 and from there on it is a flat run-in to the finish. A good chance for any sprinters who might still be around.....
We have already had one intermediate sprint today, and it went to Teklehaimanot ahead of Denifl and Goncalves.
100km remaining from 194km
With exactly 100 km to go, the lead group tops the first climb of the day 4:28 ahead of the field.
The mountain points went to Conclaves, Denifl and Kadri, in that order.
All 153 riders took to the start today.
They are now on their way up the second climb, the Alto de Usategieta, cat 2. Oomen is now the virtual race leader.
Mikel Landa of Sky is in the leader’s jersey today, after winning the stage 2 mountaintop finish yesterday. In fact, the GC top five is identical to the stage finish line-up.
1 Mikel Landa (Sky)
2 Wilco Kelderman (LottoNl-Jumbo) 0:01
3 Sergio Henao (Sky) 0:05
4 Samuel Sanchez (BMC) 0:09
5 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) 0:11
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has had some sort of mechanical problem and has taken the bike of his teammate Jesus Herrada.
Landa also leads the points classification, followed by Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), who won the first stage, and Kelderman.
80km remaining from 194km
With 80 km and three climbs still to go, the gap has fallen to 3:08.
In the sprint classification, it is Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) ahead of Dario Cataldo (Astana) and Stefan Denifl (IAM).
75km remaining from 194km
Orica-GreenEdge moves up to help with the chase work. The gap has crept back up to 3:25.
Sunshine today in the Pais Vasco! Too bad the same can't be said for the Scheldeprijs in Belgium.
Speaking of the Scheldeprijs, we have a live report for it too. Feel free to switch back and forth between the two!
68km remaining from 194km
Oomen takes off his jacket and delivers it to the team car, at the same time taking on a bison.
69km remaining from 194km
With the gap up again over four minutes, Trek has moved up to help Orica-GreenEdge in the chase work.
Edet also leads the mountains ranking, followd by Jonathan Lastra and Angel Madrazo, both of Caja Rural-Seguros.
The top team is Sky, with Katusha second and Cannondale third.
59km remaining from 194km
59 km to go and a gap of 3:41. Trek and Orica-GreenEdge are still in front, but Sky is right behind them, with yellow jersey Landa tenderly tucked in amongst his teammates.
Oomen is only 20 years old and in his first year at this level. The young Giant-Alpecin rider has already shown what he is capable of, having finished third in the Criterium International.
52km remaining from 194km
The gap is now at 3:22, with the field speeding along in chase.
In yesterday’s second stage, Mikel Landa of Sky jumped from the favourites group near the end and outsprinted Wilco Kelderman (LottoNl-Jumbo) for the stage win and overall lead. Read all about it here.
We understand that Jesper Hansen (Tinkoff) has abandoned. That will be a blow for Alberto Contador, who has already lost teammate Sergio Paulinho.
46km remaining from 194km
The gap is now at the three minute mark, exactly. Still 46.7km to go.
The gap is falling rapidly, now at 2.33. Remember, we still have three climbs to come!
40km remaining from 194km
Still about 10 km to go the third climb, and the gap is 1:48.
We just had another intermediate sprint and are awaiting the results. The next mountain is not far away.
34km remaining from 194km
34km to go, 0:59 gap, and three climbs to go!
Kadri is having trouble keeping up with the leaders. Teklehaimanot is gone too. Up they go!
Goncalves is the next to fall back. That leaves us with Oomen and Denial up front.
Attack! Michael Albasini of Orica-GreenEdge takes off out of the field!
He flies right past Kadri.
Albasini is climbing steadily and now catches Goncalves.
We have a group of three chasers, Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Laurens de Plus (Etixx-QuickStep) and Dario Cataldo (Astana) They have caught Albasini, giving us now four chasers.
31km remaining from 194km
28 seconds and 34 seconds for the two leaders, with the group of four in between.
Sorry, let's make that 45 seconds to the group of four, with the field at 1:02.
The field rides across a dam, but doesn't have time to look at the huge lake.
Our two leaers are still going strong and look good!
Now going up the cat. 1 Alto de Agina, 24.5km to go. The group four has grown to six or seven, but they now have only a slight lead over the peloton.
Pierre Rolland has joined the chase group, along with a Cannondale rider who we have not yet recognized.
They all go around a switchback and the road goes up steeply as they near the top.
Sky has decided to take matters in hand and has moved to the front of the chasing peloton.
Apparently it is Simon Yates and not Michael Albasini. Or both are in the group. It is a very liquid situation.
Up front, Denial has taken off alone.
Denifil takes the mountain points and thus the mountain jersey.
18km remaining from 194km
Things have come together at the head of the race. We now have Simon Yates, Navarro, Rolland, de Plus, Oomen, Cataldo and Denial together at front, 22 seconds ahead of the field.
16km remaining from 194km
The next climb, the Alto de la Piedad, cat 3, is approaching. It tops about about 7 km from now. From there is only 9 km to the finish line.
A small mountain stream trickles alongside the road, and they are going through lovely forests. No time for the riders to enjoy the natural beauty, though!
They have hit bottom -- so to speak -- and have now started climbing again. The last mountain of the day!
Apparently it is Adam Yates, not Simon. Twins.....
Only a minimal gap now, around 10 seconds.
Navarro takes off alone to see if he can't do something here.
He looks back but no one is on his tail.
Gianluca Brambilla has jumped from the field now and is chasing the leaders.
Navarro up out of the saddle as he heads to the top of the climb.
Brambilla has been caught by the favourites -- Contador, Quintana and so on.
The peloton, including yellow jersey Landa of course, is still close behind the chase group. Navarro makes his way down the descent.
Roman Kreuziger takes to the head of the chase for Tinkoff.
6km remaining from 194km
6km still to go for Navarro, and all flat from here out.
Only 20 seconds between Navarro and the peloton, with 4 riders in between.
3 km to go for Navarro but only a handful of seconds.
He has been caught now, and the peloton will have this group in a second too.
Seve Cummings of Dimension Data has jumped from the field and taken the lead.
He held on to take the stage win, just ahead of the field.
Simon Gerrans and Fabio Feline round out the top three today.
Today's top ten:
1 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data
2 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
4 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step
5 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
6 Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale Pro Cycling
7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
8 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9 Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Team Katusha
10 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
And the GC, which looks pretty much like before:
1 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team Sky 13:39:35
2 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:01
3 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:05
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:09
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:00:11
6 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:13
7 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida 0:00:15
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
10 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
That's it for today! Now jump on over to catch the end of the Scheldeprijs!
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