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French stagiaire wins stage, Pavel Sivakov new leader at Vuelta a Burgos

Breakaway fends off GC group to win over HC climb and Sivakov takes over leader's jersey.

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Some riders can race 15 years and never win a stage.

French stagiaire Bastien Tronchon is three days into his summer stint with Ag2r-Citroën, and came away winner Thursday in the climb-heavy third stage at the Vuelta a Burgos.

“It still hasn’t sunken in. Words are hard to find. It’s an incredible day,” Tronchon said. “I spent the stage at the front with a view to starting the climb of the Picon Blanco as far ahead as possible. I managed my climb without worrying about the others and managed to crest just before the general favorites.

“The descent was very technical but I was able to hang onto Pavel Sivakov’s wheel until the finish,” he said. “I have been progressing little by little over the past few years and I am happy to be this active in my first race as a professional stagiaire. I hope to continue to provide what the team wants from me for the rest of the season.”

The 20-year-old Tronchon won stage three ahead of Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers), who overtakes the lead at the five-day Vuelta a Burgos.

“I’m happy, but I would have liked to have won the stage as well,” Sivakov said. “It’s nice to have the jersey. We are in a good place to see if we can win the race later this weekend.”

Under extreme heat, the pair attacked over the hors-categorie Picon Blanco late in the stage, and worked together to fend off a GC chase group to win. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) crossed the line third in the group of GC favorites at 28 seconds adrift.

Overnight leader Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) finished in the GC group, but Sivakov carved out enough time to snatch the lead.

Sivakov bounced from sixth to first, and Buitrago, the stage 1 winner who had hoped to carry the leader’s jersey all the way into Saturday’s decisive mountain stage, is now second at 23 seconds back.

Picon Blanco blows up the bunch

The peloton raced under extreme heat again Thursday. (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

A day after a finish-line crash marred the Vuelta a Burgos, the peloton climbed a brutal hors-categorie summit in the second of the stage to blow up the race. Eight riders did not start Thursday after the bunch licked their collective wounds from the finish-line fracas less than 24 hours earlier.

The 156km third stage from Quintana Martín Galíndez to Villarcayo featured three third-category climbs interrupted rather rudely by the HC Picon Blanco. An early break peeled away, but the big climb was on everyone’s radar.

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As expected, the monster climb (7.9km at 9.2 percent) put the bunch under pressure. The GC leaders fought to stay at the front.

Five pulled clear over the summit, including Sivakov and Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan), that put Sivakov into the virtual leader’s jersey. López and another rider were gapped on the descent, and eventually swept up.

EF Education-EasyPost and Bora-Hansgrohe were doing much of the work in the GC group, with the lead at about 1 minute with 20km to go. The day’s third third-category climb at 6km to go proved decisive.

The gap to Sivakov and stagiaire Tronchon was about 50 seconds, when the favorites started moving out of the GC bunch on the final short but steep climb. Overnight leader Buitrago was struggling to cover the moves to keep his jersey hopes alive.

The 44th Vuelta a Burgos continues Friday with the 169km fourth stage from Torresandino to Ciudad Romana de Clunia. The undulating profile features no rated climb, but the final 2km at just under 5 percent grades, will mean a stinging finale for sprinters trying to win a stage.