Friday’s team time trial didn’t count toward the overall at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, but that didn’t discourage BMC Racing, which won the day in Calpe, Spain.
Astana was a distant second, 1:08 behind on the flat but technical 23.2km route. Ag2r La Mondiale was third, 1:12 back.
Race organizers chose to neutralize the stage due to the threat of severe weather. Most of the teams played it safe, knowing that the GC standings would not be altered by the TTT result. Team Movistar, home to race leader Alejandro Valverde, finished 11th, 2:31 behind.
“It was hard to make a good decision this morning because it was raining a lot but when it dried up, I think everyone wanted to keep it safe but still go as fast as possible to the line to take this victory,” said Greg van Avermaet (BMC). “We are not here for the GC, and the most important thing for us was the stage win, and we now have it.”
Valverde holds a tenuous four-second lead over Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) after winning stage 2.
“Given the weather this morning it was a good decision, and you have to respect that. So we still have the lead and tomorrow we’ll have to defend it,” Valverde said of the decision to neutralize stage 3.
As Valverde suggested, those hoping to win the overall were far more concerned with Saturday’s climbing stage, which takes on six categorized climbs, plus a summit finish in Cocentaina.
The 2017 edition of the race also had a decisive climbing stage on the penultimate day. There, Valverde’s teammate Nairo Quintana won on the climb to Llucena and took the overall lead for good.
Stage 3, top five
1. BMC Racing, in 27:25
2. Astana, at 01:08
3. Ag2r La Mondiale, at 01:12
4. CCC Sprandi Polkowice, at 01:36
5. Gazprom-Rusvelo, s.t.
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), in 8:27:58
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), at :04
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), at :06
4. Wout Poels (Team Sky), at :29
5. Diego Rosa (Team Sky), s.t.