Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the first bunch sprint of this year’s La Vuelta a Espana coming home just ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) during today’s 3rd stage.
It wasn’t your most simple of sprinters stages though as the 158km stage included just over 3000m of climbing. There was an early cat 3 climb to contend with as well as the 18km cat 1 Puerto del Leon coming midway in the stage. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung started the day with the plan of placing a rider in the break in order to compete for the King of the Mountains jersey.
Natnael Berhane ticked the first box by jumping into the move of the day with 7 other riders. Unfortunately Natnael was 3rd on the first climb of the day and just pipped into 2nd on the cat 1 climb, leaving our Eritrean champion tie 2nd in the battle for the climbers jersey. Once over the climbs it was then the sprinters that came into the spotlight as Tinkoff-Saxo and Movistar set the pace.
The break stopped working together over the last climb and it was to their detriment as they were caught with 15km to go. Coming into the finale it was Giant-Alpecin and Orica-Greenedge who looked to be in control of the leadout but it was Sagan, sitting on Degenkolb’s wheel, who would be triumphant.
Our ever consistent Italian, Kristian Sbaragli was right in the mix but having to touch the brakes 3 times in the chaotic sprint, saw him lose out on a podium chance by finishing 6th. Still, a credible result for Kristian after a strong team performance.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
It was a pretty hard stage because of the heat and the first category climb. My goal today was to get a podium so personally I am a bit disappointed but it is only the 2nd real stage of the Vuelta so we can’t sit back and complain. The team was good so I look forward to the next chance and I hope to go home with something more.
Jens Zemke – Head of Performance
It was a pretty good stage for us. Our main objective was to put somebody in the break and we had Natnael in, so he was fighting all day and tried for the Mountains but if somebody in the break is better then we have to accept that. The objective for the final was to bring Kristian to a good position and he finished 6th. One year ago we would have celebrated a 6th place but now our expectations have also got higher. We can live with this result, the boys did a good job but I think we can do more.