Gravel climb reshuffles Valenciana GC
Friday saw the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana peloton travel from Alicante to Antenas de Maigmo, over a 155.1km course peppered with six classified ascents. After a frantic first hour of racing, which witnessed a flurry of attacks, a breakaway was finally established, with none of the eleven men at the front posing a threat to the GC men.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl took over the reins in the bunch and limited the advantage of the escapees to a three-minute maximum, before ramping up the pace with 50 kilometers to go. Slowly but surely, our riders began chewing into the leaders’ advantage, which dropped to one minute by the moment they tackled the final climb, thanks to the impressive work of Mattia Cattaneo, Josef Cerny and Yves Lampaert.
Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage winner Mikkel Honoré remained with Remco Evenepoel on the first part of the last climb, pacing him until the moment that what was left of the bunch entered the wicked 1.8km gravel stretch. Briefly dropped, the yellow jersey battled back and returned to the front group, but the unsurfaced roads and stiff gradients eventually took their toll on him and the 22-year-old Belgian was dislodged from the top of the standings by Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-hansgrohe), who took both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.
Evenepoel came over the line 41 seconds down on the stage 3 victor and is now second in the overall rankings with two days to go: “The best guy won today, I think that’s quite clear. Aleksandr was strong not just today, but also on the first stage. The race was beautiful, with a nice course, so chapeau to the organisers for that. But then they decided to send the riders on those small roads, where there were a lot of loose stones, despite them saying before the race that these were gone.”
“The stage and the final climb were so hard that they didn’t need this gravel sector. It resembled a mountain bike sector, but I can’t say that’s the reason for me losing that much time, it’s just that Aleksandr was stronger. I felt good today, but then, towards the end of the gravel sector, I began feeling the legs getting tired. For me, the stage was one kilometer too long. Being second in the GC is still a good result. Now, I look forward to helping Fabio on the remaining flat stages”, said an upbeat Remco, who continues to lead the best young rider classification.
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