Joaquim Rodriguez gave his Katusha team its second riveting victory in the last hour by outsprinting Sergio Henao of Team Sky for victory in the third stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Escaping from an elite group of climbers, the duo and Nairo Quintana of Movistar got a gap on the descent to Zumarraga, after a riveting battle on the Alto de la Antigua, thronged with cycling-mad fans and peaking just 3km from the finish. There, Vasil Kiryienka set up his teammate Quintana by opening the acceleration, and Quintana continued the job, but drew out Sergio Henao on a counterattack. Only the Colombian and rival Rodriguez could follow the Sky man, and the three stayed away to the finish. Henao tried to win the last dash from the front, but Rodriguez, a canny classics rider as well as ace climber, got himself into position and sealed the victory. Quintana came in third at the same time.
The winning trio now share the overall lead, though officially Henao is first ahead of Rodriguez. The remaining contenders sit seven seconds back, led by World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski of Etixx-Quick Step. The race is now set up nicely for two important climbing stages and the concluding time trial.
Vitoria Gasteiz - Zumarraga 170.7 km
Does the Basque language even have a word for "flat"?
Triumphant pitiful cobbles-avoider of the day: Michal Kwiatkowski
This looks tough enough to weed out the Blings & Co of the world. World Champ FTW.