Mezgec sprints to eighth on stage three of the Vuelta a Burgos

Fri 5 Aug 2016

Slovenian Luka Mezgec clocked his second top ten placing in three days for ORICA-BikeExchange at the Vuelta a Burgos by jumping from the second bunch to contest the sprint on stage three today.

The 198kilometre stage was relatively pedestrian for most of the day as the peloton sat steadily behind a five-man breakaway that was finally caught with 30kilometres remaining.

The field split on the final climb with around 80 riders pushing on towards the finale, Danny Van Poppel (Team-Sky) won the sprint from a group of six riders who went clear in the final few hundred metres.

Mezgec was unlucky to be caught just the wrong side as the sprint kicked in and fought hard to try and close the gap, eventually finishing in eighth place.

Sport director Dave McPartland was satisfied with the team’s performance on a long and hot day in the saddle.

“We did very well approaching the finish and managed to get Luka (Mezgec) into a good position,” said McPartland. “The last couple of kilometres were fairly technical and the last two corners before the line were taken very quickly and meant that a slight gap formed at the head of the bunch.”

“Luka did an excellent job to finish in the top ten again, especially after having to go wide and then kick again.

“The breakaway shaped most of the stage today and it wasn’t until the last 30kilometres or so that the race started to heat up, we maintained our positions well and I’m happy with the situation going into the tomorrows stage.

“The finale of tomorrows stage four is very technical and slightly uphill, the general classification is still very tight and good positioning will be vitally important. We could see some aggressive racing throughout the stage tomorrow.”

How it happened:

The 198kilometre stage three began in hot and sunny conditions with the breakaway of five riders forming almost immediately.

After 50kilometres of steady racing the quintet of leaders had three minutes on the peloton.

100kilometres in and the situation had not really altered the five escapees were hovering around the two and a half minute mark with 98kilometres still to race.

The Alto di Retuerta climb began with 70kilometres to go and included maximum gradients of 14%, the five out front were still over two minutes ahead of the bunch at this point.

The quintet became a trio approaching the final 50kilometres with the peloton two minutes behind and totally in control.

Astana were leading the chasing bunch and the field came back together with 30kilometres left to race and the second ascent of the Retuerta still to come.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) broke clear on the final climb and gained an immediate advantage of 15seconds over the bunch with 23kilometres remaining.

Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quickstep) was next and passed the fading Elissonde and Contador a few minutes later as the peloton began to fragment approaching the summit of the Retuerta.

Contador, Brambilla, Dario Cataldo (Astana) and Ruben Fernanadez (Movistar) joined force on the descent and began to work together on the flat run in towards the finale.

The move did not last long as the bunch swallowed them up with 12kilometres to go and started the hustle and bustle preparation for the bunch sprint.

ORICA-BikeExchange led the field into the last ten kilometres with Team Sky and Dimension-Data also fighting for the front.

Van Poppel took the stage victory, at least two bike lengths ahead of the bunch, Mezgec finished in eighth place for ORICA-BikeExchange after jumping from the second group in the last few hundred metres.

Stage four takes place tomorrow and covers 145kilometres from Aranda to Lerma. The races first hilly stage covering undulating and technical terrain before a dragging incline up to the finish.

Vuelta a Burgos stage three results:

1. Danny Van Poppel (Team-Sky) 04:35:47
2. Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) ST
3. Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quickstep) ST
8. Luka Mezgec (ORICA-BikeExchange) ST 

General classification after stage three:

1. Dimitry Gruzdev (Astana) 08:21:01
2. Michele Scarponi (Astana) ST
3. Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quickstep) 00:00:03
25. Luka Mezgec (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:10