The third stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, with just a 475m rise the half-way mark, was another day for the sprinters.
Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), also the winner of Stage 1, went down in a crash at 30km to go. However, his Jumbo-Visma team was able to safely escort him back into the group, where he took the win in bunch sprint to the line.
“The team did a fantastic job today. Because of the good communication and the fast reaction of the team after my crash, I could return in the front of the peloton quickly. They brought me in an ideal position for the sprint. I perfectly timed it, after which I could finish it off for my teammates.”
A six-man break established itself at 8km. Three survived mid-way through the stage, and were allowed less than four minutes advantage. But this threesome was inevitably caught inside 10km.
As teams were still testing leadout trains and trying to line up their respective sprinters, everyone was looking for the best position amongst the chaos at the front of the race.
Former world champion Michal Kiwatkowski (Team Ineos) launched an attack at 3km, with Julien Duval (AG2R La Mondiale) on his wheel. This attempt lasted about a kilometer before being caught.
Alejandro Valverde — another former world champion, and currently in third place in the general classification — was also seen near the front, protected by his Movistar teammates, and trying to stay safe from crashes while looking for the highest finish possible.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Emirates), 3rd on stage one, was without a leadout and was shadowing Groenewegen.
Coming around Matteo Trentin (CCC), Groenewegen nabbed the win ahead of Jakobson for the second time in three days. This is Groenewegen’s 52nd professional win.
“We had a try at doing something the other day but today I think we executed our plan well… I hesitated a little and never really gained the speed again so they just came faster from behind,” commented Trentin.
Groenewegen finished well crediting teamwork for the win, despite having some shifting issues following his crash. “In the final, there was some corners but we stayed in a good position and we stayed together really well. I was really good in the sprint, in a good position. I had some problems with my bike after the crash but it was ok. It feels really good.”
“Because of the crash, I had some gear shifting problems that prevented me from sprinting on my biggest gear. I am very grateful to the team, because without these guys I would not have won here today.”
With no time bonuses available, general classification order is determined by finish placements, when all are awarded the same finishing time.
Stage 4 is 156km from Calpe to Altea, and should see the g.c. change again, with 2,884 vertical meters of climbing. The stage will be capped by a challenging 5km ascent, with average 11.2 percent grade.
1. Dylan Groenewegen, Jumbo-Visma, 4:54:16
2. Fabio Jakobson, Deceuninck-Quickstep,
3. Matej Mohorič, Bahrain-McLaren, all at s.t.
1. Jack Haig, Mitchelton-Scott,
2. Tadej Pogačar, UAE-Emirates,
3. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar Team, all at s.t.