Albasini sprints to fourth as Juul-Jensen spends the day in the breakaway at Vuelta al Pais VascoWed 4 Apr 2018
Last year’s stage winner Michael Albasini sprinted to fourth place for Mitchelton-SCOTT today on the third and longest stage of Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Dane Chris Juul-Jensen had a long day out in the breakaway, which escaped in the early stages and survived all the way until the final three kilometres. In the end the day concluded with a bunch sprint, the first sprint day of the tour, won by Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The breakaway swells
On the longest stage of the tour, Juul-Jensen was active at the start of the stage and jumped away with Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) in the first 15kilometres. The pair opened up a one minute lead before a chase group of six riders bridged across to form the day’s main breakaway.
The group gained a maximum advantage of six and a half minutes before the general classification teams lifted the pace and drew the group closer. With 50kilometres remaining their lead plummeted back down to two minutes.
Changes at the front
It was like deja vu with 35kilometres to go, as Juul-Jensen and De Gendt left the six riders who originally bridged across to them, and the pair led the race alone out front once again.
With 25kilometres to go on an uncategorised climb, David De La Cruz and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) attacked away from the peloton and worked to bridge across to the leading duo. After four kilometres of chasing the catch was made but the four leaders hovered only 30seconds ahead of the fast bunch and the rain began to fall.
The final attempt
Juul-Jensen and De la Cruz continued to push on ahead as De Gendt and Kwiatkowski sat up and headed back to the charging peloton inside the final 10kilometres.
They fought and fought, dangling just 10seconds ahead of the bunch all the way until the final three kilometres. The sprint team's worked to set up their sprinters before a large bunch kick into Valdegovia.
“Before the start of today's stage we had the breakaway as the main objective for all of us, except Jack Haig who is close enough on the general classification to have top 10 overall result as a realistic goal for the week.”
“As soon as I saw De Gendt go, I decided to make an effort to join him, especially as he has proven time and time again that once he goes, he rarely is brought back. There was an awful lot of headwind for the majority of the stage, so luckily six more riders got across to us and we were able to work well together throughout the stage.”
“As we approached the final 50kilometres it was obvious that we had to up the pace in order to have a chance of staying away. De Gendt began to wind up the speed on a climb and this left only him and I out there. We cooperated well together and were later joined by the two Team Sky riders.”
“I was surprised that I had enough in the tank to follow De la Cruz, and with only 10kilometres to go we made the most of our chances. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be but I'm happy with how I am feeling at the moment and hopefully will continue to improve throughout the race and until the Ardennes classics.
“Albasini is clearly getting stronger and stronger everyday since his return from illness which is very encouraging also ahead of his Ardennes campaign. Jack is also going very well and will hopefully be able to make an impact the next three stages and finish inside top 10 overall.
"All in all, the team is riding well, motivated and will continue to look for opportunities.”
Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage three results:
1. Jay McCarthy (BoraHansgrohe) 4:49:40
2. Aleksandra Riabushenko (UAE) ST
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) ST
4. Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
General classification after stage three:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors) 13:18:52
2. Primoz Rogolic (Lotto-Jumbo) +0:08
3. Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) +0:39
Photo courtesy of Getty Images