Fantastic fifth for Chaves on stage three of the Vuelta a EspanaMon 22 Aug 2016
Colombian contender Esteban Chaves produced a great ride for ORICA-BikeExchange on the wickedly steep finale of stage three of the Vuelta a Espana today, taking fifth place as many of the overall competitors were distanced.
The 176.4kilometre stage was won by Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) from the day's earlier breakaway as the race sprang to life on the summit finish of the Mirador de Ezaro.
Many of the contenders for the general classification lost time as Chaves and three Movistar riders set a vicious pace up the steep final slopes.
Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) moved into the race lead after taking second place with Chaves close behind in fifth and now fourth overall.
Sport director Neil Stephens praised the efforts of Chaves and the team on a very hot day in the saddle.
“It was a very solid stage today,” said Stephens. “The whole region of Galicia is up and down and some of the terrain is very challenging, especially in the heat we’ve been experiencing.”
“All of the guys did a great job again today and we’ve chalked up another good result. We protected Esteban (Chaves) very well and then he rode superbly up the demanding final climb for a strong finish.
“We are happy with our position at the moment and Simon Yates also performed strongly in the finale today and is now 11th overall. It is very satisfying to see our hard work come to fruition on the tough stages like today.”
How it happened:
A blisteringly hot day in Galicia welcomed the riders to the start of stage three, a lumpy undulating stage with a viciously steep summit finish coming after 173kilometres of racing.
A seven rider breakaway formed within the first 20kilometres and were allowed to disappear up the road by the peloton and they began to carve out a sizeable advantage.
After 70kilometres of racing the seven leaders had just over five minutes on the Team Sky led peloton.
The lead group broke apart on the steep Alto de Lestaio with 60kilometres remaining, as Simon Pellaud (IAM-Cycling) broke clear in search of the king of the mountains points. The peloton were now over six minutes behind.
Pellaud developed a lead of one minute over his former companions with 45kilometres to go, making use of the fast descents between the sharp climbs.
With 25kilmetres left to race Pellaud was maintaining his 40second advantage on the penultimate climb with the peloton a further four minutes behind.
A few hundred metres from the summit and Pellaud was caught and then dropped by Peter Serry (Etixx-Quickstep) and Geniez.
Four minutes further back and Team Sky started to increase the speed of the chase as Serry and Geniez hit the descent as Pellaud regained contact.
Over the flat final twelve kilometres the trio had just over three minutes on the bunch with the Mirador de Ezaro to come.
The insanely steep climb to the finish was only two kilometres in length but with an average gradient of 13.6% and a maximum of 30%, the three leaders hit the ascent with just over two minutes on the peloton.
ORICA-BikeExchange flew towards the climb at the head of the field as Pellaud was dropped at the front as Serry attacked followed by Geniez.
Geniez pushed on as the peloton began to break up with Chaves upping the ante alongside Movistar with most of Team Sky dropped instantly.
Chaves and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) looked very strong as Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) bridged across with a few hundred metres to go.
The stage was won by Geniez with Chaves taking fifth place alongside Froome and just in front of Quintana.
The fourth stage takes place tomorrow and covers 163.5kilometres from Betanzos to San Andres Teixido. Another hilly and undulating stage including three categorised climbs and a tough final ten-kilometre ascent to the finish.
Vuleta a Espana stage three results:
1. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) 04:28:36
2. Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) 00:00:21
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:00:26
5. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:26
General classification after stage three:
1. Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) 09:16:07
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:00:07
3. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 00:00:11
4. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:17