La Vuelta: Solo win for Geniez, Red Jersey for Fernandez
Aug 23 2016 12:00 am CET

La Vuelta: Solo win for Geniez, Red Jersey for Fernandez
La Vuelta: Solo win for Geniez, Red Jersey for Fernandez

Alexandre Geniez of FDJ has won the third stage of the Vuelta a España. Movistar's Ruben Fernandez is the new leader in the overall classification.

The stage, 176km long from Marin to Dumbria, was dominated by a breakaway of seven riders with Gatis Smukulis (Astana), Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Pieter Serry (Etixx - Quick Step) Simon Pellaud (IAM Cycling), Jerome Cousin (Cofidis), Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18) and David Arroyo (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA).

Monday's action included the first retirement from this year's Vuelta as Frenchman Warren Barguil of Team Giant-Alpecin abandoned after having arrived to Spain suffering from a sinusitis.

A crash took place after a few hours on the road with Niccolo Bonifazio and Patrick Bevin as its principal victims, but both riders got back onto their bikes without serious injuries.

The gap between the lead group and the peloton remained stable at five to six minutes throughout a large part of the stage. Pellaud of IAM Cycling reckoned that an attack was needed to ensure that the advantage would hold and attempted to break away from his fellow escapees on several occasions.

The Swiss rider eventually succeeded and created a gap of up to 1'20" with the chase group. At this point, the peloton was trailing by a significant seven minutes.

But on the climb up the Alto das Paxareiras, Pellaud struggled to keep his advantage and was eventually caught and surpassed by Geniez and Serry while the peloton slowly but steadily reduced the gap as well.

As the final climb up the Mirador de Ezaro neared, disaster struck for Astana as its leader Miguel Angel Lopez crashed and seemingly hurt his face. The Colombian got back on his bike but lost significant time.

The finale, a 1.8km climb with an average gradient of 13.8 percent, gave the General Classification riders a chance to gain some time on their rivals. Movistar, who hadn't been particularly assertive in the Tour de France, drew first blood on this occasion as Alejandro Valverde set a high pace and momentarily caused Chris Froome to drop. Others, such as Alberto Contador and Steven Kruijswijk, had trouble keeping up as well.

In the mean time, FDJ's Geniez had distanced his fellow escapees and gave it his all to reach the finish line ahead of the group of favorites. The Frenchman succeeded and as such took the stage victory with a 21-second advantage over Ruben Fernandez of Movistar who appeared to think that he had in fact won the stage.

A few seconds behind, Valverde finished with Froome, who had found his way back to the front, and Colombian Esteban Chaves of Orica-BikeExchange. Quintana finished another six seconds later and Contador came in at 28 seconds from the Valverde group.

Fernandez, who appeared to be celebrating the stage win, did have a reason to celebrate as the Movistar rider takes the lead in the overall classification.

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