Gerrans finishes second on stage three of Pais Vasco

Wed 6 Apr 2016

2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Simon Gerrans sprinted to second place on stage three of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco today behind the late solo attack of stage winner Stephen Cummmings (Dimension-Data).

Gerrans won the bunch sprint for second place after excellent work by last year's Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian winner Adam Yates. Yates managed to bridge across to the first group of chasers in the last 25kilometres and played an important role in bringing things back together for Gerrans and ORICA-GreenEDGE. The result saw Gerrans move into the lead of the points classification and take the race's white jersey. 

Sport director Neil Stephens was happy with the result and reiterated the point that Gerrans is coming into some good from for the upcoming races.

“Great effort from Simon (Gerrans) today to get over a difficult parcours and be so close to the win in the finale,” said Stephens. “Like we mentioned on Monday, he is coming into some form now which is really promising for the team going into April.”

“The whole team were fantastic all day long, our plan was to get in there and have a go and we really did that. We did a lot of the work on the front again and Adam (Yates) was superb in the final 30kilometres.

“I’ve said it before but our work ethic and attitude are both outstanding,” continued Stephens. "We had a disappointing day yesterday and we really bounced back well today. We will keep giving it a go for the rest of the week and hopefully we can be up there with the leaders over the next three stages.”

How it happened:

Stage three of Pais Vasco was the longest of the six-day race at 193.5kilometres and included five categorised climbs. The stage began in overcast conditions with the sun appearing just briefly and a breakaway of five riders going clear after only eight kilometres.  

The group pushed on ahead, developing a lead of over five minutes by the time they reached the first climb of the day, the Alto de Utizi. After 100kilometres of racing and with three climbs still to come the peloton had split with three groups out on the road, including the first breakaway. The advantage had now fallen to around three minutes between the first and second groups with another 40seconds going back to the third.

The relatively flat finish of stage three meant that it could be a day for the sprinters assuming the climbs would be covered without problems. With this in mind and with riders such as Gerrans in the team, ORICA-GreenEDGE began to shoulder the bulk of the chase work on the front of the first peloton.

With 50kilometres to go Team-Sky and Trek-Segafredo had moved up to help ORICA-GreenEDGE at the front of the bunch, the escapees however, still had a lead of over three minutes. With Canadian Christian Meier and Basque country native Amets Txurruka spearheading the peloton, the advantage of the leaders began to steadily fall. Standing at only one minute with 35kilometres left to race.

Only two riders from the early breakaway remained out front when former Volta Ciclista A Catalunya winner Michael Albasini attacked from the chasing group in an attempt to bridge the gap to the leaders. The move broke up the head of the peloton, as three riders joined him, including Daniel Navarro (Cofidis). Navarro posed a potential threat to the race lead of Mikel Landa (Team-Sky) so the British team reacted immediately and moved to the front of the peleton.

On the penultimate climb of the day Yates made it into the Albasini group and began to push the pace up on the ascent, with 16kilometres to go they had lost Albasini, abosrbed the two leaders and had a gap of over 20seconds on the peloton. Ten kilometres later and Navarro attacked, with Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quickstep) following. The duo did not get far and with less than ten kilometres left to race the field had been brought back together.

The final three kilometres were predominantly flat and if the bunch could hold, definitely favoured the sprinters. However with less than a kilometre remaining Cummings saw his opportunity and attacked, gaining a lead of a few metres and then time trialing alone to the line. Gerrans won the sprint behind for second place and his second podium in three days at Pais Vasco.

Stage four takes place tomorrow and covers a mountainous route of 165kilometres from Lesaka to Orio.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco stage 3 results:

1. Stephen Cummings (Dimension-Data) 5:01:57
2. Simon Gerrans (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST 
3. Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) ST 

General classification after stage 3:

1. Mikel Landa (Team-Sky) 13:39:35
2. Wilco Kelderman (LottoNl-Jumbo) 0:00:01
3. Sergio-Luis Henao (Team-Sky) 0:00:05
24. Simon Yates (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 0:00:52