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Vuelta Stage 3: Froome Takes Red Jersey as Nibali Nabs Stage

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Nibali Stage 3 Vuelta 2017 JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images

As the Vuelta hit the mountains on only the third day, the GC was given a colossal shakeup, the peloton shattering on the way to Andorra la Vella. A seven-man escape of Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural), Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Davide Villella (Cannondale), Alexandre Geniez and Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) plus Fernando Orjuela (Manzana Postobon) forced themselves clear before the Col de la Perche, to be later joined by Przemyslaw Niemiec (UAE Team Emirates). Villella won himself a temporary grasp of the King of the Mountains jersey as the group splintered in response to Quickstep and then Sky's chase.

It was indeed Sky who had the biggest impact on the stage, putting their men on the front at the start of the Coll de la Rabassa and breaking the peloton into pieces, squashing the attacks by Darwin Atapuma and Ruí Costa before pulling back the last remnants of the break, meaning it was a smaller peloton than might have been expected that rode onto the final climb, but not before Froome had picked up three bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint.

A big effort from Gianni Moscon broke the peloton into a couple of small groups, but this was not Sky's final move of the day. Froome wasted no time in making an attack from the front of his small pack, with only Esteban Chaves able to follow the move, and reluctant to make any pulls. Romain Bardet and Fabio Aru were the strongest of the chasing pack and caught up to the lead duo on the descent, with a further group catching up in the final kilometre. Nicolas Roche was in this group, attempting to jump clear almost immediately. This did not work, but Nibali's move did. A gap formed almost immediately and there was not enough space to bring him back. David De la Cruz won the sprint for second with Froome in third. These bonus seconds put him into the leader's jersey by two seconds from the trio of De la Cruz, Roche and Tejay van Garderen.

This stage, I would say, exceeded expectations. A reduced sprint, though not one so reduced, seemed to be the expectation, with the GC battle very much expected to wait. We have learned a great deal about who can challenge for the win and who cannot, with Kruijswijk, Costa, López and Barguil losing over a minute and Contador and Majka losing over two. Froome’s here to win and he’s capable of doing it, but so might be Chaves, which is good to see after the setbacks which have befallen him this year. Froome’s style is not to hand over the jersey to a break, so we will see how he races this with the lead in his grasp.

Stage Result:

  1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Bahrain-Merida - 4:01:22
  2. David De la Cruz (ESP), Quick-Step Floors - st
  3. Chris Froome (UK), Team Sky - st
  4. Romain Bardet (FRA), AG2R La Mondiale - st
  5. Johan Esteban Chaves (COL), Orica-Scott - st
  6. Fabio Aru (ITA), Astana - st
  7. Nicolas Roche (IRE), BMC - st
  8. Tejay van Garderen (USA), BMC - st
  9. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA), AG2R La Mondiale - st
  10. Michael Woods (CAN), Cannondale Drapac - 0:25

General Classification

  1. Chris Froome (UK), Team Sky - 8:53:44
  2. David De la Cruz (ESP), Quick-Step Floors - 0:02
  3. Nicolas Roche (IRE), BMC - st
  4. Tejay van Garderen (USA), BMC - st
  5. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Bahrain-Merida - 0:10
  6. Johan Esteban Chaves (COL), Orica-Scott - 0:11
  7. Fabio Aru (ITA), Astana - 0:38
  8. Adam Yates (UK), Orica-Scott - 0:39
  9. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA), AG2R La Mondiale - 0:43
  10. Romain Bardet (FRA), AG2R La Mondiale - 0:48