In an extremely fast and exciting finish, Gerald Ciolek reigned supreme at stage 3 of the Ruta Del Sol. The Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung sprinter managed to out sprint Roy Jans (Wanty) and Moreno Hofland (Belkin) to take his first victory of the season.
In a day that was destined to come down to a bunch sprint, 4 riders still tried their luck in an early escape. The break never got more than a 5 minute gap as a number of teams had an interest in bringing the race down to a bunch sprint. The early leaders were inevitably brought back inside 12km to go.
Team Sky were at the helm with 10km to go but Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung could be seen to have strength in numbers in the final kilometres. Timing its lead out to perfection, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung took control of affairs with 4km to go when Daniel Teklehaimanot brought the black and yellow train to the head of the race.
With a number of teams fighting to get something out of the race, the final kilometer became slightly messy but Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung still had enough fire power left in the form of Andreas Stauff. He dropped Ciolek off in the prime position to start his sprint with just 500m to go. In an exhilarating final few meters, Ciolek finished with the most speed and crossed the line first.
Directeur Sportif, Manel Lacambra was ecstatic with the team’s performance today. “You know, this result is very good but the most important is to see how well the team was working together today. Already yesterday I was happy, not because of the result of Sergio but because of how the team was working together. When we race together like that we are powerful and today you can see how powerful with Gerald winning,” Lacambra said joyously.
Ciolek had nothing but praise for his teammates after the race. “I am very happy to take this victory but today it was great work by the whole team. Andy did such an incredible job for us in the final kilometer. This is a very important victory for us and I am happy to start the season this way,” Ciolek said.
Tomorrow stage 4 will bring the Ruta Del Sol to its conclusion when the peloton race from Ubrique to Fuengirola over 159km. The stage could be classified as a medium mountain stage and so a reduced group is expected to arrive at the finish together.
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (Spain) – (February 19 – 23/UCI 2.1)
Sergio Pardilla (ESP)
Linus Gerdemann (GER)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI)
Jaco Venter (RSA)
Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)
Andreas Stauff (GER)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Staff: Manel Lacambra (Sports Director), Bastian Buffel (Soigneur), Nico Beyens (Soigneur), Daniella Nieri (Mechanic), Jim Bryan (Mechanic), Stevie Christaens (Mechanic)