Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2018: Stage 3
January 1 - April 7, Bermeo, Basque Country, Road - WorldTour
Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 3 of the Vuelta a Pais Vasco.
Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2018 hub page
Pais Vasco stage 1: Alaphilippe wins opening stage
País Vasco stage 2: Alaphilippe wins again in Bermeo
70km remaining from 184km
Hello and welcome to action. As we position the second CN blimp, there are 70km left to race on stage 3.
Yet gain there is a break up the road but the peloton is chasing them down for the expected aggressive finale.
The race is already on a plateau but there are a series of climbs in the finale.
It's a classic sprig day in northern Spain, with spells of sun and showers.
The break is on wet roads but the peloton is enjoying some sun.
Astana and Team Sunweb are leading the chase of the break. Sunweb seem keen to set up Michael Matthews for a sprint finish.
But there are six climbs to come before the finish.
The riders in the break are: Pavel Sivakov (Sky), Ion Irisarri (CajaRural-RGA), Aritz Bagues (Euskadi), Ben King (Dimension Data), Brendan Canty (EF-Drapac), Willie Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), Chris Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal).
67km remaining from 184km
Their lead is 3:00 now.
65km remaining from 184km
The race is now on the first of those six unclassified climbs.
Astana is driving the pace. It seems for local resident Pello Bilbao. He was strong in the opening stages, finishing third and seventh.
We've added the names of the seven riders in the break to our situation column on the right.
That's where we highlight the names of the riders and the time gaps.
61km remaining from 184km
The 187km stage headed south from the coastal town of Bermeo deep into the Basque Country.
The riders face a long loop in the finale, before the finish in Valdegovia.
This is the break of the day.
There are some interesting names in the break. De Gendt could be a real threat to the peloton today if he is at his best. There is no better breakaway rider than the Belgian.
56km remaining from 184km
The riders face a 32km loop in the finale but are currently riding towards a downpour. The skies ahead are grey and heavy.
53km remaining from 184km
The peloton is gradually pulling back the break but seems in no rush to bring them to heel just yet.
Smit drops back to the Katusha team car to talk tactics.
We could soon see some attacks from the break as they try to stay away.
It will be interesting to see Pavel Sivakov (Team Sky) does today.
He was a revelation as a U23 rider but what can he do at WorldTour level.
Romain Bardet is sat behind his AG2R team car. He quickly changes a shoe with the help of two teammates.
47km remaining from 184km
Here we go! The break is splitting after an increase in speed on a climb.
Rincon and Canty are the first to crack.
Smit is also struggling and is spat out the back.
The race is riding through the stunning Valderejo national park. The roads are quiet but with lots of Basque fan out cheering the riders.
As expected, the four strongest riders left up front are De Gendt, Juul Jensen, Sivakov and King.
The peloton makes it safely around a tight downhill corner and accelerates again.
This is a screen grab of Bardet's quick shoe change. He did it well.
The peloton is still being dragged along by Astana, with Moreno Moser doing much of the work on the front.
Team Sky are also gathering at the front of the peloton.
They are protecting Kwaitkowski perhaps.
Upfront a gradual rise is too much for Ben King. The American is dropped from the attack as De Gendt and Juul Jensen keep the pace high.
37km remaining from 184km
Sivakov has also been distanced as the two leaders open a 2:00 gap.
We've got a real pursuit match on now.
It is raining hard at the finish but the roads are dry at the moment. However a wet finish will change the outcome of the stage.
De Gendt and Juul Jensen are doing licks on the front, sharing the effort as they try to keep the peloton at bay.
32km remaining from 184km
There are two more climbs in the final 30km but De Gendt and Juul Jensen have a chance of staying away.
They face the La Tejera climb next.
It climbs steady for 3km. And will be give a real indication of the chances of Juul Jensen and De Gendt.
Here comes the rain.
There is also a strong side/head wind blowing from the riders' left.
That will help the peloton with their chase.
Team Sky have four riders on the front, tucked behind Chag Haga's wheel, who is riding to set up Matthews in the sprint.
De Gendt seems tired now but will not give up until the peloton catches him and Jensen.
Ben King waves as he is swept up by the peloton.
Here we go! Sky and Astana are trying to split the peloton on the climb.
Kwiato and De la Cruz go clear with 25km to go.
Omar Fraile tried to go with them but was soon distanced.
The two Sky riders are only 32 seconds down on Juul Jensen and De Gendt now.
21km remaining from 184km
We've got a pursuit match out on the road.
Kwiato and De la Cruz lead the peloton by 15 seconds or so. But now Quick-Step Floors is chasing to control De La Cruz.
Here comes the rain as BMC and Bora also help the peloton chase.
Much of the final 18km descent towards the finish but there is a strong head wind in the final 5km.
17km remaining from 184km
The Sky duo of Kwiato and De la Cruz are about to catch De Gendt and Jul Jensen.
The peloton is 30 seconds back.
16km remaining from 184km
We have the catch up front. These four could stay away.
The peloton is 30 seconds back as they get some help from the TV moto slipstream.
Bora and Quick Step are leading the chase.
A full rainbow can be seen from the roadside. The sun is out but the roads are very wet.
Up front De Gendt cracks as the break fights into a head wind.
The tough rolling terrain and lots of headwinds finally cracked the Lotto Soudal rider.
Jensen is still fighting to stay in the break as Kwiato drops back after one last turn.
12km remaining from 184km
Jensen and De la Cruz are just 18 seconds ahead.
De la Cruz is tucked in an aero position but Jensen looks cooked.
De la Cruz calls on Jensen to do a turn but the Dane admits he's finished and just hanging on.
Behind BMC attack in pursuit of the duo.
It's Dylan Tuens.
He's saved his strength for a move in the finale.
Can he cross the gap and go solo?
8km remaining from 184km
Behind Astana and Movistar lead the chase.
Despite the riders up the road, we seem set for a sprint finish.
The riders turn left onto a country road.
Tuens is between the break and the peloton.
6km remaining from 184km
Tuens is going to be caught as Movistar take control.
De la Cruz and Jensen lead by just 10 seconds.
Behind the blue Movistar train is leading the chase.
5km remaining from 184km
The peloton can see the two attackers now.
We're surely going to have a sprint finish.
4km remaining from 184km
Jensen has tried to give De la Cruz some help with the work despite being on the attack all day.
3km remaining from 184km
Two riders attack from the peloton.
Herrada is one of them but they're going to caught.
It's all together with 3km to go.
Now Rojas kicks away.
2km remaining from 184km
We have more attacks as riders try to stop a sprint finish.
2km remaining from 184km
A Caja Rural rider goes clear alone.
1km remaining from 184km
He has a gap.
1km remaining from 184km
It is Soto. He is still clear.
He's fading fast.
500m to go.
It's a hectic sprint finish.
Jay McCarthy takes it!
The Australia hit the front early, moved across to take the shortest line and won it well.
McCarthy got an excellent lead out from teammate Gregor Mühlberger and they rightly celebrate together.
It is McCarthy's second win of 2018 after also taking the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
This is the top ten for stage 3:
1 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe 4:49:39
2 Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
4 Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott
5 Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
6 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
7 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
8 Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Burgos BH
9 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team
10 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo
Kwiatkowski was an impressive third after trying a late attack with De la Cruz.
Alaphilippe was well placed but eased up in the sprint to finish sixth.
He kept the race leader's yellow jersey.
This is the new top ten on the GC.
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 13:18:52
2 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:08
3 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:39
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:43
5 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:54
6 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:58
7 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
10 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
Alaphilippe leads Roglic by 8 seconds, with Gorka Izagirre at 39 seconds.
McCarthy was happy to have taken his second WorldTour win of 2018.
"Our first plan was to look after our GC guys but if it came down to a sprint then it would be up to me to have a go," he explained.
"The guys did a good job all day. Gregor Mühlberger did an awesome lead out. It’s his birthday today as well, so I’m happy to pay him back with a victory."
"This is my first victory here but my second victory of the season. I’m happy to a get a second win."
McCarthy climbs onto the top step of the podium and enjoys his moment of glory.
That was another thrilling stage of racing in the hilly Basque Country.
Tomorrow will be very different as the riders face the key 19.4km Lodosa time trial.
It will be a vital stage for the overall classification and a real test of Alaphilippe's ability.
This is the first photo of McCarthy's win.
Julian Alaphilippe kept the leader's yellow jersey and will start the time trial last and in yellow.
It's been another hectic day of racing. In Belgium Quick-Step Floors won again, taking win number 24.
Fabio Jakobson continued Quick-Step Floors' incredible season with a surprise win in Scheldeprijs in reduced bunch sprint victory over Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Chris Lawless (Team Sky).
Marcel Kittel and his Katusha teammates controlled the peloton despite the new route on the exposed roads of Zeeland, only for the German to suffer a third puncture in the final 15km.
He tried to chase but eventually threw in the towel.
Click here to see our full race report and photo gallery from Scheldeprijs.
If you've stuck with us, you're in form a special treat.
Next week Cyclingnews unveils the first in a series of documentary films. Our premiere feature centres on the holy week within cycling, between the start of the Tour of Flanders and the finish line of Paris-Roubaix. These two races form the epicentre of the cobbled classics, the bergs of Flanders and the cobbles of Roubaix etched into the rich history of the sport.
Featuring Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Niki Terpstra, Philippe Gilbert and a string of other key personalities, the film tells the story of the cobbled classics through the eyes of the riders and their support staff.
Click here to see a sneak preview of what’s to come next week.
Over the coming days, we’ll release more footage, before the full version of the film will be available next week. Stay tuned to the site and our Vimeo page for more details.
We have more photos of McCarthy's win in the Basque Country.
This one shows how he took the best line in the sprint.
Here McCarthy hits the line first.
Here McCarthy celebrates his victory as Alexandr Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates) expresses his disappointment.
To see more photos from the sprint and the stage, and o read our full stage report, click here.
We'll be back for live coverage for Thursday's time trial stage to understand who will emerge as the overall contenders in this year's Tour of the Basque Country.
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