Stage three ends in surprise solo victory in Valencia
It was another day in paradise for Trek-Drops at the Setmana Ciclista Valencia for stage three of the tour. The race started out in the picturesque town of Sagunt, where the riders would complete two circuits around the countryside, and through the town for two sprint primes. Based on the course profile, and how the race played out in stage two, stage three would be much the same result.
The team's plan going into the days stage was to ensure that our GC contenders, Tayler Wiles and Kathrin Hammes were well protected, having an easier ride in the stage. As predicted, the only times that the pace really quickened was through the town of Sagunt for the sprint bonuses. The peloton strung out each lap through the town, and then into a cross-wind section, where pressure was applied at the front. At times the peloton was split, with the field guttered to the left, however, no major was done, and the peloton remained “gruppo compacto”.
Tayler Wiles had some unfortunate luck before the run into the climb of the day, with a double puncture, however, teammate Anna Christian delivered her back to the front of the field in a good position to tackle the climb. The category two climb was not raced like previous climbs of the tour, and it appeared race leaders Canyon-SRAM were happy to set a steady, yet uncomfortable tempo. With over 40km to go to the finish from the summit of the climb, it was appearing to be another bunch kick for the win. Or would it?
With 15km to go, one solo rider made a break for it, and slowly gained an advantage of 1 minute 15 seconds, a gap that is manageable for a strong peloton to bring back. However, the Swabo Ladies rider was committed to the attack and held the gap out at 52 seconds. With 5km to go, it became obvious that the peloton was not going to be able to bring the rider back. As it was, Nicole Steigenga took the win solo, with Lotta Lepisto and Marta Bastianelli in 3rd place. The 3rd place for Marta moved her into GC lead going in to the final stage. Arguably the toughest of the tour. Abby-Mae Parkinson maintained her Best Young Rider jersey going into the final stage in Benidorm, starting at 12pm CET on Sunday.
DS, Loren Rowney commented
“Today’s stage is pretty much how I saw the day playing out… except for the solo winner, that was very cool to see. The team got through the stage as planned, out of trouble, and keeping our GC contenders as protected as possible for tomorrow’s stage, which I believe will be the true GC day. Great to have Abby-Mae still in the Young Riders Jersey going in to stage 4. I really do hope she keeps the jersey, and that one of our GC contenders moves up into a top 5 position”