Volta a Catalunya stage winner Esteban Chaves was fighting until the very end on today’s brutally steep final climb in Vuelta al Pais Vasco, crossing the line in 13th place, just 20 seconds down on the winner Tadej Pogacar after a hard final acceleration saw gaps open up.
As the first summit finish of the race, the general classification contenders were in position, ready to battled it out on the steep four kilometre climb to the finish line, attacking one after the other but despite their forceful attacks, no riders were able to create any huge gaps due to the intensely steep 20% gradients and the shortness of the climb.
Chaves remained towards the front as the favourites group yo-yoed back and forth with every acceleration, until Primoz Roglic & Pogacar finally snapped the elastic on their second attempt to break free in the last kilometre, jumping ahead to contest the stage honours but by a slim margin.
“It was pretty tough. I thought I could be a bit better, but we need to be realistic, 10-minute climbs aren’t the best for myself and today was very different compared to in Catalunya.
The team did a really good job today, they put me in a great position and in the end, this is what we have, these are the legs.
It was tough and we will try and get some time back, we have some more freedom now, for sure, and there are many opportunities to come.”
Julian Dean – Sport Director
“We thought we could win today, that was the objective so obviously when you don’t do that it isn’t an awesome feeling, but the boys were really good. They stuck to the plan and kept Esteban at the front and had him there when he needed to be there and that’s all you can ask of anyone.”
2021 Vuelta al Pais Vasco – Stage 3 Results:
1. Tadej Pogacar 4:04:50
2. Primoz Roglic ST
3. Alejandro Valverde +0:05
13. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) +0:20
Photo courtesy of Getty Images