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Vuelta a Espana 2017: Vincenzo Nibali wins Stage 3; Chris Froome goes into red

Joe Robinson
21 Aug 2017

Vincenzo Nibali outsprints his General Classification rivals to take Stage 3 victory in Andorra with Chris Froome taking overall lead

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) won Stage 3 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana in a bunch sprint amongst the other General Classification favourites. He outsprinted David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) to take the win in Andorra.

After being dropped on the final climb, Nibali was able to put his outstanding descending skills to good use, chasing back onto the lead group and eventually sprinting from distance to take the win.

Thanks to third on the stage, Froome finds himself taking the red leader's jersey on the first mountain stage of this year's Vuelta. This leaves Froome with 18 further stages to defend the lead until the end of the final stage in Madrid. 

What happened where

Stage 3 saw the riders tackle their first mountain stage of the race with a 158.5km route tacking the riders from Prades Conflent Canigo to Andorra La Vella. The peloton took on their first big test of the race with three classified climbs, two lying within the final 30km of the day.

Unlike yesterday, a breakaway formed from the gun with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja-Rural), Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) and Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) establishing a gap. They were then joined by Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale), Alexnandre Geniez (AG2R La Mondiale) and Fernando Orjuela (Mazana Postobon).

As the riders hit the first climb of the day, the Col de la Perche, Przemyslaw Niemiec (UAE Team Emirates) manged to bridge the gap to the leading seven. As they hit the summit of the climb, De Gendt rolled across the line first, taking maximum points on the first true climb of this year's Vuelta.  

The race relaxed after the first climb, with the gap almost hitting 5 minutes at it maximum. This smooth tempo made it appear as if the peloton's catch was inevitable. This urged Domont to push on solo with 53km to go, distancing his fellow breakaway riders. 

As they entered Andorra, Quick-Step Floors eased the pace, unhappy being lent on. Eventually Team Sky took control at the front of the bunch with the time gap tumbling on the lead-up to the penultimate climb of the day, the Col de la Rabassa. 

At the foot of the Rabassa, red jersey holder Yves Lampaert began to drop from the bunch, as expected. Further up the road Alexandre Geniez was pushing the pace of the break, who were quickly losing time to the main peloton. Suprisingly, Thomas De Gendt dropped from the breakaway, leaving Villella and Ferrari with Geniez. 

Just like the Tour de France, the Team Sky train set an unrelenting pace up the Rabassa bringing the gap to the lead group down to 1 minute 50. At the head of affairs Geniez and Villella battled it out for the mountain points on offer.

With 34km to go, former World Champion Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) nipped off the front with teammate Darwin Atapuma in a break destined for failure with the tempo of the peloton so high. 

As they reached the base of the final climb, Froome managed to nick three seconds at the intermediate sprint under the nose of his general classification rivals. This was immediately followed by a high pace by Team Sky as they hit the Alto de la Comella. 

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) began to lose time with 10km, rulling out any potential final victory before his retirement at the end of the race. 

Gianni Moscon managed to thin out the bunch on Comella, with a small group of less than 15 general classification men fighting to reach the summit of the final climb. 

As they reached the summit, Froome hit out for glory with only Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) managing to hold the wheel of the Tour de France champion. Before the summit, Nibali began to lose time with Fabio Aru (Astana) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) leading the chase.

By the base of the climb, Froome and Chaves had been joined by Bardet and Aru, with a seven second advantage over the chasing bunch. 

Vuelta a Espana 2017 Stage 3: Prades Conflent Canigo - Andorra la Vella, 158.5km, result

1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Bahrain Merida, 4:01:22
2. David De La Cruz (ESP) Quick-Step Floors, same time
3. Chris Froome (GBR) Team Sky, st
4. Romain Bardet (FRA) AG2R La Mondiale, st
5. Esteban Chabes (COL) Orica-Scott, st
6. Fabio Aru (ITA) Astana, st 
7. Nicolas Roche (IRL) BMC Racing, st
8. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, st
9. Domenico Pzzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale, st
10. Michael Woods (CAN) Cannondale-Drapac, at 0:25

Vuelta a Espana 2017: General Classification top 10 after Stage 3

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