Vuelta a España (st. 3)
Quintana -still in 2nd overall- Valverde (12th in GC) finish inside main peloton in Alicante as Bennett (BOH) takes resounding victory.
Following Nairo Quintana’s big stage victory on Sunday in a day quite more demanding than expected, the 2019 Vuelta a España got back to a calmer scenario on Monday’s 188km stage three, from Ibi to Alicante through the interior of the province.
The stress picked up only at the Puerto de Tibi (Cat-3), forty kilometers from the end, as Jumbo-Visma’s insistent pace and a five-rider counter-attack started by Thomas De Gendt (LTS) -which was briefly joined by Marc Soler- brought back the early break, dropped some sprinters and increased the speeds before the long, gentle descent towards the finish. The Movistar Team protected Quintana, as well as Alejandro Valverde, until the very end, with Arcas, Erviti, Rojas and Oliveira keeping the front of the group until well into the streets of Alicante, where Sam Bennett (BOH) took the day’s honours.
Quintana remains in 2nd place overall, 2″ behind Nicolas Roche (SUN), as Valverde stays in 12th, 49″ down. Tuesday’s stage four will be another flat finish in El Puig, entering the province of Valencia, though the thunderstorms forecast for the area could play a key factor in the 175km route, most importantly at the descent of the Oronet (Cat-3).
Alejandro Valverde: “Even if there’s always some wear for all of us at the end of a Grand Tour stage, it’s obvious that today’s was quite less demanding than yesterday. There was some tailwind heading into the city and those speeds made for a dangerous one, so we tried to stay as close as possible to the front to avoid any setbacks and finish well. We can only feel happy about our Vuelta start: we did alright at the TTT, we won yesterday’s stage with Nairo, we both finished up there today – we’re there, we’re happy. Another stage to get through safely tomorrow, then it’s Javalambre on Wednesday.”
Nairo Quintana (courtesy La Vuelta): “This is La Vuelta and people come here to see their favourite riders triumph. And today, the Colombians got to see Colombian riders on the podium, like they hoped for. It’s been a very nervous finale. They wanted a bunch sprint and we stayed up front in order to avoid splits and crashes. I hope I’ll have the strength to win La Vuelta.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto