56º Giro Ciclístico Valle d´Aosta
Stage 3: Antagnod – Champoluc (179.7 km)

…. And the first one came. From today, Champoluc will be an unforgettable place for the Alberto Contador Foundation’s continental project. The Luxembourger Michel Ries won the first victory of Kometa Cycling Team this season after winning the third stage of the Giro del Valle de Aosta, after attacking six kilometres from the end. Champoluc was reached after a journey of 180 kilometres hardened by the climbs to Champremier, Ravet and Joux, a journey where his companions Stefano Oldani and Juan Pedro López shone with their own light starring in a dangerous escape and protecting their companion.

With a first step by Joux in its first bars, the stage started nervous and uncontrolled. The Sevillian Juan Pedro Lopez took an early cut that grew to eleven units. In the ascent, with the arrival of some runner from behind, a group of eight cyclists was formed, finally twelve, where López received the company of Stefano Oldani. The platoon would grant more than three and a half minutes on a leak that would decompose between attacks on Champremier.

On his ramps Oldani would leave with Baggioli (Colpack) and Huys (Lotto), while Lopez returned to the discipline of a platoon in which he would meet Ries again. The Milanese would give in on the climb up to Ravet, where the illustrious squad would begin to be selected very much. Lopez and Ries ended up integrated in a small group of nine units that in the descent to Brussons ended up growing until twelve. The Lotto had three cyclists, and very active was the Dutch Kevin Inkelaar (FDJ), on the part of the Kometa, present both Lopez and Ries.

The Gran Ducado cyclist started six kilometers from the end, consolidated a dozen seconds of margin and knew how to manage while behind, imperial, Juan Pedro Lopez multiplied to mark all those who accelerated the pace in search of Ries. The Luxembourger had eight seconds left over the Belgian Maxim Van Gils (Lotto). The Andalusian finished in fifth place, rounding out the great role of the Madrid team. The overall standings once again suffered a change of leader: the Belgian Mauri Vansevenat (EFC) reached the yellow jersey. Juan Pedro Lopez sits ninth at 12:57. Michel Ries is seventeenth at 21:29. “We are very happy. It’s been a tough day. They escaped practically from kilometer 1. I tried to protect Michel to the maximum. Let’s see how the body wakes up tomorrow”, says Lopez.

Michel Ries, winner of the third stage of the Giro del Valle de Aosta: “I am really happy to win today. The last weeks after my crash were not so easy  always so this makes this victory even greater. The team did really good today with Juanpe and Stefano in the breakaway. I had really good legs and in the end I went „ all in or nothing“ and fortunatly I could take the win”.

“Spectacular, it has been a spectacular day. The team has done an incredible job. We are fortunate to have several riders who are worthy of WorldTour”, says Dario Andriotto. “Oldani has been on the run all day, Lopez has also been on the run… Both of them supported Michel very well afterwards. And facing the end, when Ries had already started, Juanpe stopped all counterattacks. I’m very happy because the team proved to be a team. Ries won, yes, but it’s also the team’s victory.  It’s the crowning of all their work.

This Saturday, the penultimate stage takes place entirely on Swiss soil. The great novelty of this year’s edition of the Giro del Valle de Aosta is this 128-kilometre day that will connect Orsières and Champex-Lac. On the menu, the climbs to Champex-Lac, Petite Forclaz, Col du Lein, Col des Planches and the final ascent.

(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)

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