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Part of a four-rider break that held off the peloton, Isaychev beat Busato and Benito in a sprint to take the biggest win of his career on stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos; Sanchez retained the lead

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LUIS LEÓN SÁNCHEZ

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VLADIMIR ISAICHEV

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VUELTA A BURGOS 

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06.08.2015 @ 16:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) took a hugely surprising victory in stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos which was the only opportunity for the sprinters in the five-day race. The Russian had made it into a five-rider break and four of them managed to hold off the peloton before he beat Matteo Busato (Southeast) and Miguel Angel Benito (Caja Rural) in a sprint. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) finished safely in the peloton and retained the leader’s jersey.

 

The Vuelta a Burgos is known as one of the most mountainous races on the Europe Tour and so it has rarely attracted many sprinters. Nonetheless, the fast finishers usually have one opportunity in the five-day race and it has often allowed some of the lesser known riders to take a rare victory.

 

This year the sprinters were expected to shine on stage 3 which had an almost completely flay profile but they never got the chance to sprint for the win. After a furiously fast ride across the plains of Burgos, a four-riders managed to hold off the peloton as no team was really committed to the chase.

 

This allowed one of the most loyal domestiques of the peloton, Vladimir Isaychev to take the biggest win of his career. The Russian had been selected for the race to keep team leader Daniel Moreno safe on the flat stages and provide valuable assistance for the team time trial but suddenly he got a chance to ride for himself.

 

Isaychev had escaped alongside Imanol Estevez (Murias Taldea), Matteo Busato, Miguel Angel Benito and Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia) after an earlier break had been caught at the midpoint of the stage. They never got a bigger advantage than 2.22 but none of the sprint teams did any work and so it was left to Astana to set the pace.

 

Entering the final 10km, Estevez had been dropped and the remaining four escapees still had an advantage of 40 seconds. Astana were still riding on the front but with no sprinter in the team, they had no interest in catching the break.

 

With 7km to go, the gap was still 40 second and this prompted Ag2r to come to the fore. Johan Vansummeren and Blel Kadri took some huge turns and they had brought the gap down to 30 seconds with 5km to go.

 

The French team gave up and so Rein Taaramae took over for Astana. This meant that the gap was still 20 seconds with 1.5km to go and it was evident that the escapees would decide the stage as they were still working well together.

 

The game of cat and mouse finally started with 800m to go when no one wanted to pass Quintero who had hit the front. Benito was the first to get nervous and he launched a long sprint from far out. Busato was perfectly positioned in second position and seemed to be taking the win but Isaychev had time everything perfectly. The Russian passed the Italian just before the line to take his first win since he became Russian road race champion a few years ago.

 

Southeast missed out on the win with Busato and were left even more frustrated by the fact that their sprinters Rafael Andriato and Manuel Belletti were first from the peloton. However, they crossed the line 15 seconds too late.

 

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) finished safely in the bunch which had split in the crosswinds and so he defended his 1-second lead over teammates Taaramae, Miguel Angel Lopez and Michele Scarponi. He will try to defend that position in stage 4 which is one for the puncheurs. There’s an early category 3 climb but otherwise the roads are mostly flat until they get to the long gradual uphill to the finish which come at the top of a category 3 climb.

 

One for the sprinters

After yesterday’s team time trial, the GC riders were expected to have an easier stage on day 3 as they would cover 165km from Castrojeriz to Villadiego. There was an early category 3 climbs after around 50km of racing but otherwise the course was almost completely flat, meaning that a bunch sprint was the expected outcome unless the wind would wreak havoc on the peloton on the Burgos plains.

 

As usual, it was a very hot day in Burgos when the 88 riders who finished yesterday’s stage, gathered for the start and they got the race off to a fast start with lots of attacks. The elastic snapped after 11km of racing when Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) took off an he was quickly joined by Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r), Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) and Pablo Torres (Burgos).

 

A furious chase

Torres was dropped from the break which had to work very hard to get a bigger advantage. When Mas beat Valencia and Isaychev in the first intermediate sprint at the 22km mark, the gap was still only 25 seconds.

 

The peloton finally slowed down and after 30km of racing, the escapees had extended their advantage to 2.08. However, the peloton refused to let the escapees go and when they got to the climb, they were breathing down the neck of the escapees. Gourgard was caught before they got to the summit where Valencia was first, followed by Mas. Isaychev was next at 7 seconds while Blel Kadri (Ag2r) over the top just 21 seconds behind the leaders.

 

A new break is formed

After 62km of incredibly fast racing, the break was caught and this opened the door for new attack. Six kilometres, Miguel Angel Benito (Caja Rural), Imanol Estevez (Murias Taldea), Matteo Busato (Nippo.Vini Fantini), Isaychev and Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia) managed to escape and finally the peloton slowed down. At the 89km mark, the gap had gone out to 3.22.

 

Isaychev beat Estevez and Busato in the second intermediate sprint at the 110km mark and at this point, their advantage had been reduced to 2.22. With 23km to go, it was still 1.55 and it was Astana and Caja Rural doing the work in the peloton. However, the latter team quickly left it to the Kazakhs to set the pace

 

The bunch had split due to the fast pace on the plains and a few riders had already been distanced. Meanwhile, Estevez was dropped from the break and he was caught with 27km to go.

 

Astana attack in the crosswinds

With 25km to go, Astana attacked hard in the crosswinds and race leader Sanchez even took turns on the front. Lots of riders were dropped while the gap melted away. It was down to just 45 seconds with 20km to go when Katusha also tried to split the field.

 

None of the main riders had been dropped and so the peloton calmed down a bit. Astana again hit the front and while a few riders were allowed to rejoin the peloton, the gap stabilized around 45 seconds. It stayed there until the riders got to the final 10km where it became apparent that the break had a chance to stay away.

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