Rein Taaramae (Intermache- Wanty) won the first summit finish of La Vuelta a Espana, from the breakaway, as stage 3 finished on the Picon Blanco climb. Joe Dombrowski (UAE Emirates) was 2nd and Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) 3rd.
Stage 3 of La Vuelta a Espana was one of the longest of this year’s race, as the peloton had to cover 203km from Santo Domingo de Silos to the summit finish a top Picon Blanco.
Having raced up the final climb just over a week ago at the Vuelta a Burgos, Fabio Aru was confident of being able to match the best GC guys, with full support from his Team Qhubeka NextHash teammates.
An early break of 8 riders animated the opening kilometers of the stage, and they steadily built their lead. Race leader’s, Team Jumbo-Visma, were happy to let the escapees run free and this saw the lead continue to grow above the 8-minute mark.
As the final climb approached, Team Bahrain Victorious took up the pace making and this saw the gap begin to drop, but the attackers had a healthy advantage and so it was clear the stage winner would come from their group.
Taaramae proved to be the strongest of the front runners, taking the stage win ahead of 3 remaining breakaway riders, the others caught by the peloton on the climb.
Aru, after being delivered to the foot of the climb in very good position by his teammates, rode confidently at the front of the GC group, still with support from Sergio Henao up until 5km to go. The main group whittled down significantly near the summit, but Aru was equal to all the accelerations, right up until the final 200meters.
Our Italian climber would eventually cross the line in 13th, just 7 seconds adrift from the likes of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers). It was a promising performance that also saw him jump up the GC standings, to 13th overall.
I had a really good feeling and am happy about the result from today. I lost a few seconds in the final 200m but nothing significant that will make a difference. We did a really good power in the last climb, compared to last week in Burgos we were a lot faster and there was also more wind today. I was happy to be among the GC guys, it gives me a lot of confidence for the next days. I’m thankful to my team because we were together and at the front in the last kilometers before the climb. The spirit of Ubuntu we have here in our team is so strong, I couldn’t have done anything without them today, they really helped me a lot.Fabio Aru