Vuelta a Espana 2016: Stage 3 – Geniez hits the jackpot, Fernandez in red

It was a blistering hot stage with a couple of climbs that would scare the bejesus out of lesser men. The first rider to zigzag his way up a virtual wall to the finish was Alexandre Geniez of FDJ in full unzipped glory. Ruben Fernandez celebrated second as he rode into the red jersey with his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde coming in third.

Rider of the race

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While Geniez’s victory was indeed impressive, my rider of the race is going to be IAM’s Simon Pellaud. This is the last grand tour for IAM Cycling and each stage gets more precious if you’re about to be out of contract. Pellaud went on the attack out of the break with Jerome Cousin but soon distanced the AngryCat (Direct Energie) rider. Geniez and Etixx Pieter Serry then broke away themselves in their chase of the Swiss rider. It looked like Pellaud was going for the KOM points, as opposed to the entire stage win, but after a lot of riding off on his own, he was caught by Geniez and Serry just a few kilometres from the penultimate crest – one that would have put the polka dot jersey squarely on his shoulders – and dropped him. But this is what makes me name him my rider of the race – he zigzagged his way back up to the pair and although only Geniez stayed in front of the peloton, Pellaud gave everything he had in those final kilometres, even as other riders sped past him. Chapeau!

A bad day for …

Warren Barguil (Giant) had to drop out of the race due to sinus problems. Speaking of dropped, Tejay van Garderen (BMC) went right out of the back almost at the base of the final climb, probably not to be heard from again. It was a really bad day for Astana leader, Miguel Angel Lopez, who crashed hard 7km from the finish and looked like he tried to take a bite out of the asphalt. It took him quite a while to get back on the road … if his dental work can take it and he continues the race, it’ll be for stage wins. JumboBee Steven Kruijswijk had a mare of a day as well, getting decisively dropped on the final climb to come in 53rd on the stage.

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And Baby Blackbird’s wings just weren’t strong enough today – Alberto Contador stayed with the Movistar move that helped to put Fernandez in red, but couldn’t hold in there, dropping back and probably seeing Chris Froome riding past him, elbows akimbo, to take another 30secs on the Spaniard. He’s not even in the GC top 10 while Froome is third.

…but a good day for …

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Alejandro Valverde, who came in third on the stage and second in the GC, just 7secs behind Fernandez (who, it’s fair to say, had a most excellent day) – and 4secs ahead of Chris Froome, who battled his way back into the Movistar group in the final kilometre to move into third on the GC. Esteban Chaves – our little kangaroo – stayed with Nairo Quintana as the Movistar group broke away on the final climb to come in fifth on the stage and move to fourth overall. Watch him! That young’un can leap on climbs! And BMC’s Samu Sanchez has thrown down his own gauntlet, finishing eighth on the stage and moving into sixth overall. A Renaissance race from the fans’ favourite, perhaps?

Stage results

1 Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) 4:28:36

2 Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) +0:21

3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:26

4 Chris Froome (SKY) same time

5 Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) s/t

GC

1 Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) 9:16:07

2 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 0:07

3 Chris Froome (SKY) +0:11

4 Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) +0:17

5  Nairo Quintana (Movistar) same time

Jerseys

Points leader:Alexandre Geniez (FDJ)

King of the Mountains leader: Alexandre Geniez (FDJ)

Combined classification leader: n/a at time of post

Team classification leader: n/a at time of post

For full stage review: Cycling News

Header image: Alexandre Geniez (©Jaime Reina / GETTY Images) 

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