Mezgec closes fast for third on stage three of La Vuelta

Mon 26 Aug 2019

Tour of Poland stage winner Luka Mezgec sprinted to third place on a fast finishing stage three into Alicante at the La Vuelta a Espana.

The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider had closing speed as he came quickly from behind, narrowly missing out on second place, but settling in behind clear winner of the stage Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe). 

Taking it down a notch:
After the drama of the opening team time trial and the excitement of yesterday’s finale, today’s stage three stepped down a notch to a more traditional sprinter’s day. 

Three riders clipped off the front with ease at the flag and rode out to an advantage of six minutes before the sprint outfits sent workers to the front to steady the gap and gradually reel it in. 

With 50km to go it was down to a little over a minute and despite a brief effort by Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Damien Howson and four others launching off the front, it was all back together just after the final climb of the day with 39km remaining.

Fast final run in:
Windy conditions on the coast and several pieces of road furniture to contend with saw the general classification teams boss the front of the peloton on the downhill approach into Alicante. 

The sprint teams took control in the final three kilometres and Mezgec came from the back, navigating his way through traffic in the final kilometres, before closing fast in the final sprint to finish in third behind Bennett and Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo).

Luka Mezgec - 3rd place:
"The climb wasn't so hard, maybe it was surprising to some guys because they were not in position but in the end, it was a big, fast and hectic finish.  

"With one kilometre to go I thought it was already over because I was position 30. Somehow I found a good line coming back and then I started sprinting but it was too late, I was too far back."

Julian Dean - Sport Director:
“It looked like a hectic sprint and Luka did really well to end up getting third. He came from a long way back and I think everyone could see he was one of the fastest sprinters there but he was just a little bit out of position.

“We always knew it was always going to be stressful finish but all the guys were safe. We had Dion puncture with 10km to go which was really unfortunate because he would have been of great value to Luka in the final to maybe help with a better position coming into the sprint, but that’s bike racing.”

La Vuelta – Stage 3 Results:
1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 4:25:02
2. Edward Theuns (Trek Segafredo) ST
3. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

La Vuelta – General Classification after Stage 3:
1. Nicholas Roche (Team Sunweb) 9:51:14
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) +0:02
3. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +0:08
4. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:22

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.