Vuelta a España (st. 3)
Horner (RLT) takes perfect-timed attack to fruition atop Mirador de Lobeira ahead of Movistar Team’s leader, jumping into 6th overall after turbulent finale
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An attack by Chris Horner (RLT) under the ‘flamme rouge’ led the American to the victory and the red jersey atop Mirador de Lobeira, the Cat-3 climb closing stage three of the Vuelta a España -185km starting at Vigo-, with more nervousness on the bunch as Alejandro Valverde and Movistar Team never lost the front of the race. A crash with 40k remaining broke the peloton into two big groups, with Lastras, Gutiérrez, Intxausti, Moreno and Capecchi protecting Valverde while Belkin, Euskaltel and Saxo-Tinkoff led the pursuit behind -with Erviti, Herrada and Szmyd on their wheels- to ultimately get back with ten kilometers from the foot of the final climb.
José Herrada proved again his great condition by jumping before an attack from Santaromita (BMC), the two eventually overtaken by Horner, who led the race home with Valverde three seconds adrift -the Spaniard back again as the one looked by his rivals in the decisive moment-. The Movistar Team leader is now 6th in the GC, gaining six seconds over Nibali (AST) and two on Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT). Tuesday will bring the last Vuelta stage entirely on Galician soil, finishing at Fisterra after 189km from A Estrada, with the Mirador de Ézaro -1,800 meters at 13%- as the big judge of the day.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “The stage ended up being really hard. It’s sad I missed out on the victory because I had the legs and the finish suited me well. Actually, we didn’t mean to contest it, but the race development forces you to get up front – there’s Purito, who also came in 3rd. You can’t sit up, and it’s also important to get some bonus seconds. The team paid attention in all phases of the race and took me to the front wherever it was needed – a difficult day because of the wind required focus. We were alerted by the team radio there was some crash behind, and there was tension at the front indeed, but riding up-front, any crashes or gaps are easier to combat. It’s almost normal we came into this situation, because the passage through the bridge was crazy – that separator in the middle of the road was bonkers. Galicia is beautiful… but mostly on holday. This Vuelta will be really long and we must stay going day by day, but I’m feeling strong at the moment.”