Irishman Sam Bennett won Monday’s third stage of the Vuelta a España, taking the bunch gallop in downtown Alicante by nearly a bike length.
Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) crossed the line just ahead of Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), with Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) crossing the line in third.
“I can’t tell you how relieved I am with that,” Bennett said after the stage. “I felt so bad yesterday—I can’t tell you how bad my legs were during the stage. Whether I went easy or hard they were bad. Thanks to the team, I could relax and follow them, and they got me in the right place at the right time to make my effort. If it wasn’t for the team effort today I definitely wouldn’t have gotten it.”
Noticeably absent from the bunch kick was Colombian Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates), who was dropped 40km from the finish on a punchy third-category climb. Television cameras showed Gaviria’s legs covered in bandages; the result of UAE-Team Emirates’s crash in the opening team time trial.
Overnight leader Nicholas Roche (Team Sunweb) kept the red leader’s jersey.
The 188-kilometer stage from Ibi to Alicante was destined for the sprinters, however the route contained two categorized climb, including the Puerto de Tibi, which came inside 40km to go.
An early break went clear at the outset of the stage, and the peloton brought the group inside 3 minutes with 75 kilometers to go. Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) made a move on the Puerto de Tibi alongside Sunweb’s two Americans Neilson Powless and Sepp Kuss and Marc Soler (Movistar) and Damien Howson (Mitchleton-Scott). The peloton quickly reeled in the group.
The group remained intact as it rumbled toward the finish after the climbs, only without Gaviria to challenge for the win.
The stage win is Bennett’s third at the Vuelta and sixth grand tour stage—he also owns three stage victories from the Giro d’Italia. Bennett said his goal was to sprint first, and he was able to go before Teuns.
“Sunweb closed us when we were coming with speed and we lost all our speed and then Jempy [Drucker] got out and got us to speed, and just as Shane [Archibold] went to go on the right Trek came and got boxed,” Bennett said. “I went with momentum on the left. I knew it as a fast final and I really wanted to kick first and I think Trek just waited a little too long.”