Vuelta a España (st. 3)
Valverde out of contention in Arcos after crash hits Vuelta leader in his back; Castroviejo and Malori also affected. Quintana now 2nd overall behind Matthews (OGE); Alejandro in 3rd
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Australian Michael Matthews (OGE) is the new leader of the 2014 Vuelta a España after winning stage three, a long fraction of 197km starting at the Juan Carlos I aircraft carrier in Cádiz and finishing at a small uphill in Arcos de la Frontera, which was made even harder by intense heat and four climbs prior to the end. Though the day was mainly calm -a five-man break served as launchpad for Spaniard Lluis Mas (CJR), who got the KOM points to later be caught into the flat before the finish-, an incident with less than 20k remaining hit the Movistar Team, with three of their members crashing: Adriano Malori, Jonathan Castroviejo and then-GC-leader Alejandro Valverde.
While the Spaniard, with a blow in his back, got back on his bike quickly and kept the pace of the bunch, Malori and Castroviejo had to be assisted by the team and chose to continue the stage more calmly, with no bigger physical consequences than his team-mates. Still, stress by the incident took Valverde out of position into a really fast approach to the finish, not able to contend an unusual volata where Nairo Quintana, safely into the favourites’ group, took 13th and kept 2nd overall, 4″ behind Matthews -Alejandro is now in 3rd, 11″ back-. The race will now head into Córdoba for chapter four, over 164km which will include the climbs of San Jerónimo (Cat-2) and Catorce por Ciento (Cat-2.)
Alejandro Valverde: “One of the team-mates in front of me crashed while trying to pick up a musette and I went to the ground, too. More than sweeping the ground, it was a sharp blow, with no bruises: I hit a team-mate’s bike and hit my back, but I could recover and go ahead. I started the climb well behind and because of that, I’m happy with the time I lost. Seven seconds is nothing. My back hurts a bit after the crash, but I hope it’s not serious and I can recover well. I’m not feeling really sad after losing the jersey – it was more that I wanted to win this stage. I couldn’t, but this is cycling, things like that happen and we must carry on.”