Henderson Wins Stage 3 of Vuelta
Greg Henderson (Columbia) has become the first New Zealander to win a stage of the Vuelta a Espana in 19 years. Henderson took a bunch sprint to win Stage 3, a flat, 189-km ride from Zutphen to Venlo, the Netherlands, in 4:41:01. Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) outlegged Oscar Freire (Rabobank) for second. Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) remains the overall leader.
The hostilities began early. Lars Boom (Rabobank), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), and Jesus Rosendo Prado (Andalucia) escaped in the first two km and ran up a 10-minute lead by 49 km. The bunch pursued halfheartedly and pegged the lead at between seven and eight minutes.
Eventually, Saxo Bank, Milram, Quick Step, and Garmin started chasing seriously. The escapees' lead fell to 3:47 with 57 km left and 2:48 with 47 km remaining.
With 33 km left, the bunch was about a half minute behind the break. Boom attacked his companions. Prado and Hoogerland caught him, and Boom drifted back to the peloton. Hoogerland followed suit, but Prado forged a 0:40 lead with 25 km to go.
Garmin had troubles at the worst possible time. In the last 20 km, Chris Horner, Tyler Farrar, and Julian Dean had mechanical problems and had to be towed back to the bunch. At the front, Liquigas, Quick Step, and Milram drove Prado's pursuit and capture. Eventually, Garmin and Columbia joined them.
Quick Step led the field into the last two km to set up Tom Boonen. Vacansoleil, however, battled to the front for Bozic. Henderson, thinking that teammate Andre Greipel was on his wheel, jumped onto the back of Vacansoleil's train. With 150 m left, however, Greipel had not burst past the New Zealander, so Henderson took matters into his own hands. Greipel settled for fourth.
In the overall, Cancellara leads Henderson by 0:06 and Gerald Ciolek (Milram) by 0:08. Stage 4 will take the Vuelta from the Netherlands to Belgium. The 224-km ride from Venlo to Liege will feature the Cauberg, which is the finish of the Amstel Gold Race, and Mont Theux. Some riders will be dropped, but a bunch sprint should decide the stage. Who will win it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!