Evenepoel Wins Stage 3 of Vuelta a Espana
Monday’s stage 3 of Vuelta a España 2023 was a 158.5-kilometer ride from Suria to Arinsal in Andorra. The stage was contested in beautiful and breathtaking mountainous terrain, included the Coll d’Ordino (category 1; 17.5 km; 4.9% average incline), and concluded with the Category 1 Arinsal climb – a 8.2-kilometer category 1 climb featuring incline percentages of up to 10.1.
Súria is situated in the Cardener river valley in Catalonia and is an interesting location for tourists. Its castle, medieval streets and the historic Poble Vell town center makes Suria an interesting location for historically interested people who are drawn to the town to study its attractions and to take part in various medieval fairs. The area around Suria is known for its significant potassium salt deposits.
Arinsal is a small village that situated close to the highest mountain peaks of Andorra. The location is close to the Spanish border and is an attraction to skiers, walkers and cyclists. The area also appeals to persons who want to withdraw from the stress of their daily lives and take some time off to relax and recover from illness.
Before the start of the stage, defending Vuelta a Espana Champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) once again focused on the weather forecasts and the predicted rainy racing conditions – perhaps he was contemplating asking the race organizers to neutralize today’s stage as well? Team DSM-Firmenich’s Oscar Onley had dropped out of the race following his crash in yesterday’s stage 2.
The start of the stage was dominated by several breakaway attempts and eventually a group featuring eleven riders formed. The group featured Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious), Jasha Sütterlin (Bahrain-Victorious), Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Lidl-Trek), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Eduardo Sepulveda (Lotto-Dstny), Andrea Vendrame (AG2R-Citroen), Rune Herregodts (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), Mathis Le Berre (Arkea-Samsic), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Jose Manuel Diaz (Burgos BH), and Jon Barrenetxea (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). The front men worked well together and built a lead of more than five minutes.
The EF Education-EasyPost took charge at the front of the main peloton to control the advantage of the breakaway group and do their best to promote their race leader Andrea Piccolo who was proudly wearing the red La Vuelta race leader jersey.
With 80 kilometers left of the stage, the front group had an advantage of approximately 04:45 minutes. The main peloton was keeping their leash relatively tight, as Caruso has been known to be a solid stage race performer – especially in his time with Bahrain-Victorious.
40 kilometers from the mountaintop finish, the advantage of the front group had been reduced to three minutes. EF Education-EasyPost, Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-QuickStep were doing hard work at the front of the peloton to control the gap.
On the Coll d’Ordino the DSM-firmenech and Jumbo-Visma teams were leading the peloton to try to reel in the breakaway hopefuls. The DSM team was hoping to put Romain Bardet in the Vuelta leader jersey. As the speed was increased in the front group as well, the breakaway group was reduced to a trio featuring Caruso, Kämna, and now Eduardo Sepulveda (Lotto-Dstny).
Bardet attacked solo from the main peloton with two kilometers left of the Coll d’Ordino climb. He wanted the red jersey. He was joined by Jumbo-Visma’s Wilco Kelderman. But the duo was caught.
In the main peloton, Soudal-QuickStep moved to the front to keep the Bardet-Kelderman advantage at a minimum and to prepare an attack of their own for Evenepoel.
Sepulveda was first across the top of the Ordino climb. He was followed by Caruso and Kämna. A challenging and somewhat wet descent now followed.
Meanwhile, race leader Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost) had been dropped from the main peloton and it appeared a new race leader would be found today.
Sepulveda was dropped from the front trio on the descent partially due to a mechanical issue and Caruso and Kämna reached the final climb of today’s stage as a duo. Ghebreigzabhier was chasing approximately 50 seconds behind, and Sepulveda had a one-minute deficit.
Kämna left Caruso on the Arinsal climb and soloed on towards the finish line at the top of the climb. But Caruso fought hard to hang on and showed more persistence than expected. Kämna spent much energy on complaining to Caruso. The two riders rejoined forces, and Caruso was forced to take some pulls at the front of the duo.
Sepulveda and Ghebreigzabhier were caught by the main peloton headed by UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma. Jay Vine increased the pace for teammate Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates). Ineos-Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas appeared to be suffering.
Kämna attacked Caruso three kilometers from the finish line. Their lead had been reduced to thirty seconds. The favorites were lurking and contemplating attacks – including Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic.
Ayuso attacked from the favorites group and Vingegaard countered. Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss attacked and went solo. He caught Caruso and Kämna. Meanwhile, Alexandre Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) attacked from the favorites group. Kuss appeared to be ordered to wait for his team captains Roglic and Vingegaard.
Kämna was caught and Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) launched an attack. Thomas was dropped – perhaps the Welshman was suffering from the effects of yesterday’s crash.
500 meters from the finish line the favorites were all together.
Evenepoel attacked and delivered an impressive sprint across the finish line. Evenepoel crossed the finish line in solo fashion and showed his great explosiveness. No other rider was able to follow. Evenepoel crashed after the finish line and was bleeding from his right eyebrow. But the victory was still sweet for the Belgian World Champion.
Vingegaard crossed the finish line in second place. Ayuso completed the stage podium, while Roglic finished fourth. Thomas lost valuable time in today’s stage.
Tuesday’s stage 4 of La Vuelta a Espana 2023 will bring the Vuelta peloton down from the mountains on a 184.6-kilometer route from Andorra la Vella to Tarragona. Most of the stage is downhill, but to spice things up, the race organizers have added two category 3 climbs to the mix.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for news from La Vuelta a Espana 2023.
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