Vuelta a Andalucía (st. 3)
Valverde, Movistar Team still leading Andalucía overall with 24 hours remaining after uneventful stage towards Sevilla. Ciolek (MTN) claims bunch sprint win
After three days of demanding efforts, the Movistar Team and Alejandro Valverde had a calm day on stage three of the 60th Vuelta a Andalucía, the flattest of this year’s race over 182km between Sanlúcar la Mayor and Sevilla. The bunch sprint did not lack polemics, as Belgian Roy Jans (WGG) celebrated the win only to see its short winning margin being contested via a photo finish. German Gerald Ciolek (MTN) would eventually be declared winner.
Valverde, always well protected by his team-mates, kept the front of the field in the finale and rode past the day’s only major trouble: a mass crash at the back of the group with less than 3km from the finish, which splitted the bunch into two groups and caused mayhem into the sprint. The Spaniard still holds a 20-second gap in the lead over Richie Porte (SKY) before the race’s decider on Sunday: 160km from Ubrique to Fuengirola with the Boyar (Cat-1), Viento (Cat-3) and Abejas (Cat-3) ascents in the opening stages, plus the slopes to Mijas in the run-in to the finish.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde (via Eurosport): “It was quite a calm day, but it still got a bit nervous in the finale. The crash was pretty big and it did happen just after me – fortunately, we didn’t have any problems and could reach the finish properly, so we’re happy. There’s only one day left and we hope to get over it in the best of ways. I have examined the profile and the stage will be pretty hard from the beginning, but as long as we get over the first 60-70k without troubles, I think we stand a huge chance to win this one.”