Lopez resists in the hardness of Chera and Ries is weighed down by a mechanical breakdown
70th Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Stage 3: Quart de Poblet- Chera (194.3 km)
Juan Pedro López from Lebrija took a new step forward in the general classification of the Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana after arriving with the leading group close to the demanding final in Chera, where a partial victory was decided for the Belgian Greg van Avermaet (CCC). The flamenco classic beat the Italian Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Murcia’s Luis León Sánchez (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Many carats in a fight with a multitude of microcuts, and their consequent dripping of seconds, after which the Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) is still leading.
Lopez finished in 41st place, 19 seconds from the winner; a minimal loss of time that materialized in the last bars of a crazy, nervous and intense end. His perseverance allows him to ascend to the same position in the general classification (41º) and consolidates him as the best classified among the riders of the Kometa Cycling Team in the Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Italy’s Stefano Oldani, who gave 5:18, and Luxembourg’s Michel Ries, 7:41, were next to reach the finish line in Chera. Ries was harmed by an untimely mechanical problem about eight kilometres from the end that prevented him from reaching the front group when he was part of it.
It was a very demanding stage and not a single flat metre in which the Madrid squad tried to have a presence, just like in Thursday’s stage, in the breakaway that ended up with ten riders. It was not possible, the breakaway ended up kneading almost three minutes of advantage at the height of kilometer 25 of the stage and from there the riders focused on riding as close together as possible, protecting Lopez, Oldani and Ries from a complex final stage hardened by the interests of WorldTour formations, with great protagonism of Astana in that performance. Eight kilometres from the finish line, this large break was definitely a thing of the past after 170 years of adventure and none of the subsequent attempts managed to open up a fundamental gap.
“A very, very hard finish. They opened up in front of me one kilometre from the top of the last climb, there would be about three kilometres left or so for the finish line. It took me a world to get hooked, but in the end I managed to close the gap about a kilometre from the finish. But I was already bursting”, says Juanpe after a day in which he won eighteen positions in the general standings. “Today I had better sensations than yesterday. I was on the point of catching the good leak, but in the end there was no luck. So I was up to the last climb trying to tuck in Juanpe and Ries. In general, happy. This Saturday comes another mountain day where the race will be decided”, explains Juan Camacho.
The tremendous effort and consequent fatigue was a common denominator of all the runners. “I have arrived dead”, smiled José Antonio García after his third day as a professional runner. The cyclist from Granada finished the last day, more than 23 minutes from the winner, in a day to continue learning and adapting to the category.
This Saturday is celebrated the queen day of the Levantine round. The ascent to the hermitage of Santa Lucía de Alcossebre, which already hosted the end of the fifth stage of the Tour of Spain in 2017, will put the yellow jersey of the race into play. There will be 188 kilometres separating Vila-Real from the final climb, a climb of almost four kilometres with an average slope of 8.5% and ramps of up to 18%. The Altos de Culla (which with its 1,050 metres of altitude will be the roof of the race in this edition), La Bandereta and La Serratella will harden a complex layout, full of small non-scoring traps that will harden the development of the race.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)