Vuelta a España Stage 3: Roche and van Garderen Climb on GC21. August 2017, Andorra La Vella (AND) — Road Team
Stage 3 of the Vuelta a España was a case of the General Classification contenders putting each other on notice as the race transitioned from France to Andorra, which saw Nicolas Roche and Tejay van Garderen climb to third and fourth on the General Classification respectively.
After the team time trial on stage 1, followed by a flat day yesterday, the third day of the race was the first chance to test the legs on a tough day of racing which included two category 1 climbs and a short category 2 climb before the downhill run into the finish.
Seven riders formed the day's breakaway in the first 10km of the 158.5km stage, while BMC Racing Team's riders remained in the bunch as the gap between the two groups reached a maximum of five minutes.
As the race reached the hardest climb of the day, the category 1 Coll de la Rabassa, the gap was down to two minutes and many riders were getting dropped off the back of the bunch as the pace picked up.
Halfway up the climb, Roche and van Garderen were joined by Rohan Dennis before Dennis started to drop on the final kilometers of the ascent.
Dennis made his way back to the small group on the descent and with 27km to go, the group swept up the remaining breakaway riders.
The short and sharp Alto de la Comella climb was the last test for the group before the finish and as soon as they reached the base of the climb, Team Sky took control of the race and split the field apart.
Inside the final 10km, Roche and van Garderen were still in the mix and as Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Esteban Chaves (ORICA SCOTT) attacked, the BMC Racing Team duo stayed calm and formed a chase group that was never more than 14 seconds back on the run into the finish.
Under the flamme rouge the two groups came back together and Roche immediately made his way to the front to go for the sprint.
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) took the win ahead of David de la Cruz (Quickstep Floors) and Froome, with Roche and van Garderen taking 7th and 8th on the line.
Froome inherited the leader’s red jersey and Roche and van Garderen moved up to third and fourth, just two seconds back.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It was pretty tough. It was exactly what I expected. I know every time a race comes to Andorra, there is no easy finish. Today was no different. Once again, the race is usually made with the riders and the climb can be as tough as they are, but it’s actually the racing that makes it hard or not. I think today the tempo in the last 50km was pretty high and there was a lot going on. The team did a very good job from the start. Everyone is really giving us a hand and putting us in a good position, getting the bottles and everything which is very important. Coming into the finish we were a few seconds off Froome on the top. Tejay van Garderen came back to me on the descent and we rode with them in the final kilometer. I tried to anticipate the sprint once we caught them but I was going nowhere and they counter-attacked straight away so I tried to maintain the same time as them.”
“After winning the team time trial, I was hoping that today was the day that I could have taken the red jersey. I had that in the back of my mind. Yesterday, losing those precious seconds was a big pain for today.”
Tejay van Garderen:
“It seems like every day is a one-day race. With the team time trial always nervous, yesterday crosswinds and today, already in the high mountains. I think Nicolas Roche and I have shown that we are ready for the GC fight even though it is still a long three weeks to go. The rest of the team is riding really strong and giving us good support and I think today showed that we’re going well. It would have been nice to take the red jersey today but I’m only two seconds back after a few tough stages and we’ve already gained some time on some other rivals. That’s certainly a good place to be.”
Yvon Ledanois, Sports Director:
“Today was a good result for us. A lot of leaders dropped today so for us to have two riders in the front group, Tejay and Nicolas, it’s a good result. They’re only at two seconds from the leader’s jersey. It was the first day for the GC and we have two guys in the top ten so we can be happy.”
Vuelta a España
Stage 3 Prades Conflent Canigo > Andorra La Vella (158.5km)
Top 3: 1. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team), 2. David de la Cruz (Quickstep Floors), 3. Chris Froome (Team Sky).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 7. Nicolas Roche, 8. Tejay van Garderen, 59. Rohan Dennis.
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.