With the continuing fallout around Vincenzo Nibali‘s expulsion threatening to cast a pall over today’s sprint stage, Peter Sagan lit up the finale with a flourish. He judged it perfectly, coming off John Degenkolb‘s wheel to simply storm right down the centre of the finishing straight to open his account and stake his claim for the points jersey at this Vuelta.
Today was a typical sprint stage. The peloton, largely led by race leader Esteban Chaves‘ Orica-GreenEDGE team and Tinkoff-Saxo, never allowed the early eight-man break too much leeway. They were all back in the pack with 14km to go after Omar Fraile – adjudged most combative – had collected the king of the mountains’ jersey atop the cat 1 Puerto del Leon. As the peloton hit the coastline to return to Malaga from the east, into a headwind, the GC teams went into protective mode while the sprint teams went about organising their trains. Giant-Alpecin looked to have Degenkolb perfectly poised to add to his Vuelta tally but Sagan and Cofidis’ Nacer Bouhanni, who had a crash both yesterday and today, had other ideas. With no changes on general classification, we were treated once again to that wonderful Chaves smile atop the podium.
Rider of the stage
— Specialized (@iamspecialized) August 24, 2015
Peter Sagan hadn’t won a Grand Tour stage for 780 days (statistic courtesy of Eurosport’s Ashley House), but he won in fine style today. Set up by his fluor-yellow clad colleagues, he simply powered up the middle of the finishing straight to overhaul a tiring Degenkolb, who’d probably been dropped off into the headwind way too early by his train. Bouhanni, in second place, never stood a chance. Peter was typically upbeat after the podium ceremony expressing his happiness and dedicating his victory to the team.
Two things we noticed
1. Donkygate. We loved this tweet and picture from Sky.
— Team Sky (@TeamSky) August 24, 2015
2. Abandons. Spare a thought for those who either were DNS or DNF today. BMC’s Marcus Burghardt didn’t start after injuring his knee in a fall yesterday. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) insisted on starting today to support his compatriot and teammate, Fabio Aru, even though he most closely resembled the lead character in Phantom of the Opera. But riding with one eye proved beyond him and he retired.
Paulo looking like something out of phantom of the opera!! pic.twitter.com/4AdJmpTaPZ
— richard whatley (@WhatleyRichard) August 24, 2015
And Trek’s Fabian Cancellara abandoned today, suffering with a nasty stomach flu.
Stage 3 result
1. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) 4:06:46
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) same time
3. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) s/t
4. Jempy Drucker (BMC) s/t
5. Max Richeze (Lampre-Merida) s/t
1. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) 8:04:01
2. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) +0.05
3. Nico Roche (Team Sky) +0:15
4. Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) +0:24
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:35
6. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:36
7. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:38
8. Chris Froome (Sky) +0:40
9. Dani Moreno(Katusha) same time
10. Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:47
Points leader: Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE)
King of the Mountains leader: Omar Fraile (Caja Rural)
Combined classification leader: Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE)
Team classification leader: Sky
Link: Official race website
Header: ©Graham Watson/Unipublic