Stage 3: Marbella — Málaga
What is it? Climby, with an uphill finish.
Got Climbs? Two categorized climbs, Puerto de Ojén (cat. 2), Puerto de León (cat. 1).
Red Jersey Battle: Nice breakaway territory, so the jersey could change hands. Still a long way to Madrid.
Ideal Rider: Philip Deignan. He can climb, he can finish from a small group, and he won a Vuelta stage in Avila last year.
@Gavia: Mountains already? It must be Spain.
Beginning in Marbella, this stage cuts inland and crosses two categorized climbs before returning to the coast to finish in Málaga. There's nothing too over the top about the climbing on this one. The category 2 Puerto del Ojén climbs for 8.7 kilometers and has an average gradient of around 5%. The Ojén comes right at the start of the stage and should serve to send a break on its merry way. The Puerto del León summits with just under 40 kilometers to go after climbing 15.8 kilometers. The average gradient is again around 5%, though there are sections of 10% along the way. We're not talking the Angliru here by any means, but this climb should serve to wake up the legs and will likely split the early break. There isn't too much for the general classification riders to do here, as the final climb summits with just under 40 kilometers left to race. There's a couple bumps on the way to the finish, and the final kilometer is uphill to the line. The red jersey should change hands today, but it's not likely to be a decisive stage for the overall (famous last words).
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Post-Race Happy Hour
Philippe Gilbert did his badass Gilbert thing on the final uphill drag to the line and won today's stage in Málaga. Gilbert attacked around 800 meters to go and quickly opened up a ginormous gap over Vincenzo Nibali, who plainly also had ambitions for this finish. Nibali could not answer Gilbert's move. Joaquím Rodríguez put up a valiant effort to close down the charging Belgian, but he could not quite make it across. Gilbert crossed the line solo for the win, followed by Joaquím Rodríguez, Igor Anton, and Vincenzo Nibali. Gilbert also takes over the race lead.