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Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2017: Stage 3

Hello, I didn't see you come in there. It's stage 3 of Pais Vasco and we've a medium mountain stage on the cards today with six categorized climbs and the first true day of potential GC racing ahead of us. No major uphill finish but the climbs come think and fast in the final 110km of action.

To bring you right up to speed we saw a splurge of attacks in the opening 30km of racing but the peloton were in no mood to let anyone go. That's all changed in the last few minutes with a break of five going clear. We're waiting for confirmation but we think that the famous five are Le Turnier , Roy, Berard, Wyss, and Ferrari, who was in the break yesterday with Cofidis' Mate. 

FDJ are Tweeting about Roy. The Tweet has emojis and there's nothing more official that a crown emoji so we can take it for certain that the Frenchman is in the break.

 

We're about 36km out of Gasteiz, where the stage started, and the five leaders are about to be caught by the bunch. All together again. 

Why no break?

With no time bonuses we have 124 riders on the same shared time as race leader Michael Matthews. That makes it extremely hard for any of the front 124 to clip off the front. 

 

Here's the top ten on GC coming into today's stage:

 

1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 8:20:29
2 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
3 Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
8 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
10 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ

 

Ferrari revs his engine once more and attacks. He's brought to heel, again, but the Caja Rural is buzzing around the front of the bunch and looking for the right moment to strike.

Fuglsang has attacked with De Marchi and three more riders. Can't see the bunch letting the Danish all-rounder go clear, even this early in the stage. 

 

Montaguti, Pardilla, Courteille and Rossetto have linked up with the break. This is quite a powerful selection to be honest as we start the first climb of the day, the third cat ascent of Udana, that peaks out at 504m. 

 

Pardilla, De Marchi, Rossetto, Montaguti, Fuglsang and Courteille make up the six-man move. No time gap yet but they've pulled out a small advantage over the peloton. 

 

Sagan to ride Scheldeprijs despite the pain of Tour of Flanders crash | https://t.co/SuRIEHGhCV https://t.co/KNXEmFYVML

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 5th Apr 2017 12:30:11

News just in and Sep Vanmarcke has been ruled out of Paris-Roubaix due to injuries sustained in his Tour of Flanders crash. Awful luck for the Cannondale who sees another spring campaign slip through his fingers. You can read the story, right here.

 

Vanmarcke isn't the only rider forced out through injury. The same can be said of Mark Cavendish who has been ruled out of Paris-Roubaix with an an ankle injury. 

 

Average speed of first hour at #itzulia: 47.7 km/h. No wonder we still don't have a break.

@quickstepteam Wed, 5th Apr 2017 12:37:15

The Fuglsang six have been joined by three more riders. We're just waiting on confirmation of the first group on the road as we approach the crest of the Udana climb. 

 

112km remaining from 160km

This is actually a very decent looking group indeed. De Marchi, Rossetto, Montaguti, Fuglsang, Pardilla, Courteille, Nibali, Howes, and  Capecchi. 

48km covered so far and the gap is 1'20.

 

The leaders punch out another 30 seconds and buffer their advantage to two minutes. The bunch need to be careful here and they can't wait for Sunweb to do all the chasing. 

 

#itzulia Another three riders made the jump to the head of the race. Now nine riders in front of the peloton with a two-minutes lead.

@Lotto_Soudal Wed, 5th Apr 2017 12:51:18

We've crested the top of the first climb and the leaders have 2'20 on the peloton. Movistar and Trek Segafredo will need/want to take responsibility for the chase. Well played BMC for having a man up the road as that will take the pressure off their GC prospects. Same for Cannondale, who have Talansky and Uran at this race. 

No need for the bunch to panic just yet but the break have moved on and put 4'22 into the peloton. Fuglsang, De Marchi, Howes, Montaguti - there's some real firepower in this group of nine.

 

Talansky, we have been made aware, did not start the stage today. He's out with illness. Cannondale really are in the middle of some bad luck. Vanmarcke out of Roubaix, Phinney uncertain and now Andrew Talansky sick.

 

#itzulia The head of the race is about to tackle the Mandubia, a category two climb. It's the second climb of the day.

@Lotto_Soudal Wed, 5th Apr 2017 13:11:32

Back in the bunch and Movistar and Team Sky are setting the pace. The British team have Henao and Kwiatkowski here so they have a reason to chase at least. 

 

80km remaining from 160km

80km covered and the pressure from the bunch is starting to pay dividends with the leaders pegged at 3'35.

 

73km remaining from 160km

At the top of the Alto de Mandubia it's Alex Howes who collects maximum King of the Mountains points ahead of Rosseto and Pardilla. The race has covered 87km with the gap between the Movistar-led peloton at 2'37. The break had pushed their advantage out to over four minutes earlier in the stage.

 

De Marchi is taking a long pull on the front of the break as we start to climb again and he flicks Pardilla a look as he comes through to take over. The break clearly understand that this is a critical phase in the race and if they have aspirations of taking the stage then they need to turn the tide. 

 

Back to the bunch and it's Rory Sutherland who taps out the pace for Valverde's Movistas team. The gap is at 2'24 with 71km to go. Roy, who was in the attacks earlier today, has just been blown out the back of the bunch.

 

Fuglsang takes over on the front of the break with the Danish rider then dropping back to encourage the rest of the move. We've wet roads although the weather has been dry for most of the day. 

 

.@eroscapecchi takes some impressive turns in the escape, which is 2:40 ahead of the bunch. #WayToRide #itzulia

@quickstepteam Wed, 5th Apr 2017 13:36:34

Ps. @alex_howes' climbing game is strong today. He's first over second of climbs on #Itzulia stage three.

@Ride_Argyle Wed, 5th Apr 2017 13:35:21

We're on the 1st cat climb of Santa Ageda. This is a real test for the mid-level sprinters who can climb. Riders like Gerrans, and Albasini and if Matthews can make it through then he could a real threat today. The Australian was in superb climbing form during Paris-Nice last month. 

 

Nibali looks to be struggling at the back of the break. He's last man and is forced to close a small gap that had opened up. The gap has moved out to 2'46 with 67km to go. 

 

At the back of the pack Cummings sits up and waits for his team car. Sky have moved to the front in numbers. 63km to go and the gap is at 2'56. 

 

Long descent now for the nine leaders with De Marchi on the front. Howes was first to the top of the last climb and picked up 10 important points. That should put him at the head of the standings in the KOM competition. 

 

57km remaining from 160km

The break have done well to hold their lead at 2'41. We've still three more climbs and 56km to go, however, so the bunch still hold the advantage. De Marchi drops back and calls for his team car. It looks like he has a mechanical by the way he's sitting up and looking down at his gears. 

 

This long flat stretch of road gives the peloton the chance to eat into the break's lead and they've shaved around 30 seconds off the total in the space of around 4km. Meanwhile, Bahrain, who have a man in the break have started to chase. 

 

 

Crash in the bunch. Going through the feedzone and Alaphilippe is down. 

 

The QuickStep rider is back on his feet, takes a spare bike and starts to chase. He's had awful luck in this race so far. Further up the road and De Marchi is back with the leaders having dropped back to the team car. 

 

We're climbing again and Howes is a man on a mission. He's leading the break on the Alkiza climb, another third cat ascent. He wants those KOM points.

 

46km remaining from 160km

46km to and the break have just 52 seconds on the peloton. The break have split up with four riders going clear over the last climb. 

 

Soudal have pushed to the front as the bunch string out in a long line while descending. 

 

A  number of the early breakaway riders have been caught while a few more attacks are kicked off. We have four riders off the front still - Fuglsang, De Marchi, Montaguti and Courteille. 

 

Movistar have two men on the front with Team Sky lined out behind them. 40km to go and the gap is down to 38 seconds. 

 

And now we're down to just three leaders with De Marchi, Fuglsang, and Montaguti sharing the pace. The gap is 30 seconds with two climbs remaining. 

 

Movistar are not hanging back as they look to thin out the bunch for a Valverde attack. Contador, meanwhile, is a little further back with his Trek teammates around him.

 

Sky have lined out just behind the Movistar team. Despite the best efforts from the break the gap is down to just 23 seconds. Henao is there for Sky, close to Valverde.

 

Matthews is giving it everything on this second to last climb. If he can make it over the summit here then he has an excellent chance in the sprint finish. A bunch of other sprinters have already been distanced. 

 

13 seconds for the break as Matthews stamps on the pedals. He's in good company with Samuel Sanchez just to his left. Montaguti has been caught by the bunch. 

 

Inside the final 32km of racing and the break have 20 seconds. 

 

30km remaining from 160km

Now on a long descent with Movistar putting down the hammer before the final climb. It has spikes of around 8 per cent so plenty of room for some attacks, even though it's just a 3rd cat ascent. The final descent and then the little rise before the finish will also be key. 30km to go with the gap at 21 seconds. 

 

Matthews has moved up and is in the first half of the bunch. That's a great ride from the Australian who is looking for his second stage win in three days. 

 

Only 8 seconds for the leaders. They're going to be caught despite the valiant efforts from the duo up front. 

The peloton is into the last 20km at Scheldeprijs! Check out https://t.co/xnozBmIE4U for coverage of the finale... https://t.co/rKfcBdaIBD

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 5th Apr 2017 14:51:32

The break are holding on for dear life with the gap at 10 seconds. One more climb to go. 

 

Fuglsang and De Marchi are about to be caught. The two riders share a few words but it's almost all over as Movistar and then Sunweb lead the charge. 

 

Valverde has a teammates's bike. And Simon Yates has a puncture too. This is massive.

 

That's a huge moment in the as Valverde has to chase back and he's alone. The bike doesn't quite fit him as we see Yates and a teammate try and change his wheel. 


That's brought Sky to the front. Leading now with Valverde floundering. 

 

19km remaining from 160km

19km to go and Valverde has made it back. Movistar have little sympathy from Sky who pushed to the front just as the Spaniard needed to change bikes.

 

It was a rapid bike change from Valverde and he's made it back into the peloton. That was a real scare for the race favourite as we see Sky continue to put the pressure on at the front of the peloton. Henao and Kwiatkowski are both in the mix. 

 

Break done at #Itzulia now, too. We're on the final climb (of six) of the day.

@Ride_Argyle Wed, 5th Apr 2017 14:58:04

Bardet is also there as we see Contador move up and mark Henao. They're all watching each other as the GC men look to draw blood.

 

Yates is still chasing with two teammates. It's a long chase for the British climber and I'm not sure he'll make it. 

 

He's around 40 seconds down as Sky and Movistar share the front of the bunch... or what's left of it. 

 

Matthews is still there. 

 

And there's an attack and it's a rider from AG2R who goes clear with QuickStep marking it. 

 

Cummings is last man at the back of the bunch as Cherel leads with a QuickStep rider taking over and then kicking clear. 

Inside the final 15km as De La Cruz, winner of the final stage in paris-nice pushes clear. Yates is around 20 seconds down on the bunch. He has to keep riding if he's to save his GC prospects, as we see Cherel is caught.

 

14km remaining from 160km

And there's another attack from AG2R as De la Cruz pulls out 20 seconds. Movistar are wise to the move from AG2R and chase. 

 

Sky have shut the move down with Nieve but De la Cruz is still clear with around 13km to go and there's an attack from Roglic. That's a really powerful attack as Uran also goes clear.

 

The road flattens slightly but it will kick up again as Uran goes after Roglic. De la Cruz still leads with 13.3km to go.

 

The QuickStep man looks to be in trouble as Uran closes with Roglic hanging on.

 

Matthews dropped just at the top of the climb. He can make that though if he gets some help on the descent. 

 

Uran is caught with Roglic so it's just De la Cruz left up the road with 9 seconds on the chase. Matthews is losing time though as Bahrain attack and this time Cannondale try and mark the attack. 

 

Team Sky are trying to close down each of the moves as we see de la Cruz time trial is way to the finish. He has around 11 seconds on the GC group with 11.6km to go.

 

More attacks, this time from Sunweb and Caja Rural who roll the dice. De la Cruz still has a gap as we see Matthews trying to pull himself back into contention. It looks over for the Australian though as Barguil attacks from the bunch to try and salvage something for his team.

 

Over the top of the climb and Bardet tries to move but he's too heavily marked. De la Cruz has 14 seconds with 9.7km to go.

 

Matthews is around 40 seconds down. We can count him out for today's stage win as Sky lead the chase.

 

This descent will suit the QuickStep rider who is taking the lines perfectly. He even pulls out a couple more seconds on the Sky bunch.

 

10 seconds. It's starting to come down.

 

The Spaniard is fighting for every second, through every turn as the road flattens once more. 8 seconds with 7.5km to go. Surely he can't pull this off?

 

Bora are chasing too and the gap is down to 6 seconds. McCarthy is in the main bunch. 

 

Matthews is doing all the work in the third group as de la Cruz holds onto a slender lead of around 8 seconds on the bunch.

 

The Spaniard looks back and with 5km to go he's even pushed the advantage out. This descending is almost perfect. 

 

3km remaining from 160km

Just over 3km to go and de la Cruz has 10 seconds. The road will flatten out once more as the QuickStep rider almost overcooks it on a corner. Henao is leading the chase. 9 seconds.

 

2.5km to go and the gap is holding at 10 seconds. De la Cruz can do this as Cannodale chase. It might not be enough.

 

7 seconds with 1.8km to go as Woods takes a huge turn on the front. 

 

6 seconds now. 

 

1.3km to go and it's gone out to 8 seconds again. Now 9.

 

1km remaining from 160km

1km to go. This is going to be so close.

 

Two more corners for the leader.

 

He's going to do this. 

 

500m to go. 

 

300 to go and he's still clear.

 

And de la Cruz takes the win. 

 

Another impressive win for David de la Cruz. It looks like Kwiatkowski won the race for second but it's the QuickStep rider who takes the win and the leader's jersey. 

 

Matthews comes over the line around one minute later. 

 

That's my boy @delacruz_sbd !!! Could not be happier for you. Hard work pays off....

@BriSmithy Wed, 5th Apr 2017 15:25:46

De la Cruz picked his moment perfectly on the last climb, and caught a number of GC men off guard. Despite a number of counter attacks no one could get even close. On the descent the Spaniard held his advantage. It was a masterclass in descending and late breakaway riding. 

 

Kwiatkowski and McCarthy seemed to exchange a few words. The Bora rider is second on GC now, three seconds down on de la Cruz.

 

1 David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 3:54:25
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 0:00:03
3 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6 Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJ
7 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb

 

In other news Marcel Kittel has won his fifth Scheldeprijs. You can find all the results, photos and report from that race, right here.

 

No confirmed time for Yates but it looks as though he lost time on GC today. Valverde survived a late scare and remains in contention for the overall win.

Here's the new GC after stage 3
 

1 David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 12:14:54
2 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:03
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:03
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 0:00:03
5 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:03
6 Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJ 0:00:03
7 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:03
8 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:03
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:03
10 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:03

 

There's a race out there that QuickStep didn't win today. Bryan Coquard won stage 2 of Circuit de la Sarthe. You can find our report, results and photos, right here.

That's about it from us today. You can find our report, results and photos from today's stage, right here. We'll be back again tomorrow for stage 4 but we leave you with the tragic news that Steve Tilford has passed away after being involved in a car accident. The mountain bike hall of fame rider was admired, respected and loved by all who met him and he'll be sorely missed. Here at Cyclingnews we'd like to pay our sympathies and respects to Steve's family and friends. I'm sure everyone who met or spoke to Steve will have their favourite story about him and that they'll be remembering him today. I only spoke to him once, a couple of years ago, when I was looking for background on a piece I was writing. It was only meant to be short call but we ended up talking for an hour about a whole range of topics and you could tell Steve loved cycling and racing. A great guy, and one the sport of cycling will forever miss. Rest in peace, Steve.

 

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