The solo break by Krista Doebel-Hickok was brought back and an eventual reduced group sprint decided the winner of Stage 2 yesterday. It was a tight one, in real-time it looked like Movistar’s Sheyla Gutierrez had taken the win after Annemiek van Vleuten led her out. When the photo-finish came out though, it was clear that the rider in the Best Valencian jersey had taken the victory – Sandra Alonso. Today’s Stage 3 looks nailed on for another sprint.
Stage 3 Profile
Setmana Ciclista Valenciana Stage 3 Race Recap
The race began with a course alteration, with the race extended from 107km to 120km. Hannah Ludwig attacked first for Canyon SRAM. She had 5 riders behind her trying to chase ahead of the peloton, Nadine Gill, Christina Schweinberger, Heidi Franz, Deborah Silvestri and Georgia Williams. The time gaps were small though, after 23km, Ludwig was 15 seconds ahead of the group and the peloton a further 34 seconds behind.
It took a while but eventually, the group caught Hannah Ludwig just before the intermediate sprint, 50km into the race. Franz took the points ahead of Silvestri and Schweinberger. The gap back to the watchful peloton was still hovering around 1 minute. Then there was a massive crash in the peloton. A huge amount of riders, approx. 60, hit the deck together as the road narrowed under a bridge. Mavi Garcia and Sandra Alonso were affected but quickly rejoined the peloton. The peloton began hunting down the break, bringing the gap quickly back down to 35 seconds. The break didn’t look to be given any chance of success. With 37km to go, the break was completely neutralised.
5km later, a bunch of teams led by Drops, Rio Meira and Andy Schleck Cycles initiated an attack but the peloton was reluctant to let them go. With the downhill and flat sections, the peloton were going too fast for attacks, hovering around the 30mph mark. As the peloton came off the main road and onto a tighter rural road with 25km to go, an attack was launched. Malgorzata Jasinska for Women Cycling Sport worked hard to pull 10 seconds ahead of the peloton. Behind her, Doltcini’s Nicole Steigenga and Top Girls’ Giorgia Bariani wanted to belatedly get in on the action and were chasse patate for a long while.
Eventually, 2 riders proved to be quicker than 1 and the group became 3-strong out front. Behind them, the peloton woke up and was strung out in a long line trying to close the gap that was now out at 35 seconds. The peloton managed the gap but didn’t appear to be expending too much effort to close the gap. At the 11km mark, Rio Meira’s Elisabet Escursell decided to attack the bunch. An indicator that the pace wasn’t high. That seemed to spark the peloton back into life, with 8km to go, the gap was down to just 15 seconds.
Bariani pushed on, desperate not to be caught with 5km left to race. Steigenga and then Jasinska were swallowed up by the peloton. Bariani was still there with 3km to go, but only had a handful of seconds advantage. By 2km to go though, she was back in the peloton. Going around a traffic island, the peloton properly strung out and an Ale rider went down (possibly Tatiana Guderzo). The next island strung it out more and small splits began to appear. Canyon SRAM led it out under the flamme rouge. Alice Barnes launched a huge sprint from 300 metres out and despite the attentions of Movistar’s Sheyla Gutierrez, Barnes hung on to take the victory. Mylene de Zoete appeared to take 3rd in a great result for the young NXTG rider.
Race Jersey Leaders
Annemiek van Vleuten
Mountain Jersey Leader
Sprint Jersey Leader
Youth Jersey Leader
Valenciana Jersey Leader