Aussie Grace Brown won the 3rd stage of the 2022 Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta. The FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope rider beat Elise Chabbey in a head-to-head sprint for the finish line. Behind them, Elisa Balsamo was 3rd, leading the peloton home. Annemiek van Vleuten finished safely in the group and is still the leader in the general classification.
A relatively short stage of 96.4 kilometres saw 2 major climbs. An early one, the Alto de Hijas (3.7km at 7.5%) and then the long climb in the middle of the stage – the Alto Hoces de Barcena (18.7km at 3.2%). The peloton kept its powder dry until then, with the longer climb providing some splits on the bunch. It started with attacks from Biannic, Alonso, Asencio, Andersson and Buijsman but ultimately that group didn’t stay away. Further attacks from Lucinda Brand, Kasia Niewiadoma and Mavi Garcia were also brought back.
Demi Vollering worked for her sprinter Lotte Kopecky but ultimately, ended up dropping the Belgian with her efforts. A surprise attack from Annemiek van Vleuten tested Vollering and ensured she didn’t go too deep for Kopecky. At the summit of the climb with 30km to go, it felt like the front group would have a simple job to reach the finish. However, each ramp dropped a rider or two before the end. Attack after attack was launched, with Grace Brown launching followed by Amber Kraak.
But when the pair got 30 seconds, SD Worx started working again. With 19km to go, Kraak and Brown were caught. This time, Kopecky and Balsamo dropped and took longer to catch up again. Grace Brown tested the break again and this time she was able to stay clear for good, bringing Elise Chabbey with her. This time the chase couldn’t put out enough firepower to close the duo up front.