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"I'm one of the fastest riders in the peloton but you never know what will happen in a sprint. I thought it would be easier, but it was really hard. Several teammates came down to help me and the team worked well to get to the fron...

Photo: Sirotti


04.08.2016 @ 21:13 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Danny Van Poppel (Sky) proved that he is the in-form sprinter for the Vuelta a Espana when he claimed another dominant victory in the reduced bunch sprint on stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos. Having used great bike-handling skills to get onto Yves Lampaert’s (Etixx-QuickStep) wheel before the final turn, he immediately gapped his rivals and even had time to look back before he sat up to celebrate his win. Jempy Drucker (BMC) and Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) again completed the podium while Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) retained the lead.


We have gathered several reactions.


Danny Van Poppel: It was much harder than expected

Danny van Poppel claimed back to back sprint victories with an emphatic win on stage three at the Vuelta a Burgos.


The Dutchman was able to finish off the hard work of his Team Sky team-mates into Villarcayo with a masterful piece of positioning in the final kilometre.


Second wheel through the final tight right-hander, Van Poppel accelerated hard to take the victory, extending his lead in the green jersey standings. The top three mirrored that of day one, with Jempy Drucker (BMC Racing) and Gianni Meersman (Etixx - Quick-Step) rounding out the podium places.


The 198km test held a sting in the tail, with a hard passage over the Alto Retuerta which stretched the peloton to breaking point. Team Sky rallied around their sprinter, dragging back a dangerous move which included Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), before ramping up the pace following the descent.


Having survived the tough third category climb, Van Poppel was dropped off expertly under the flamme rouge and took his third victory of the year in style.


"I'm really happy. I didn't expect to win today because it was a pretty hard final," Van Poppel explained after the stage.


"I suffered a lot, especially on the last climb and I was one of the last guys at the back. The team did a great job. They helped me and waited for me, then when we got back to the front they pulled full gas to take back a strong break. The lead-out was perfect!


"Cycling is a really hard sport. I know I'm not bad on the uphills, but it's always difficult in Spain to ride uphill. I'm really happy to take another victory and I really want to thank the team. They did a great job!


"Tomorrow is possible again for a sprint, but first we enjoy this victory!"


"I'm one of the fastest riders in the peloton but you never know what will happen in a sprint. I thought it would be easier, but it was really hard. Several teammates came down to help me and the team worked well to get to the front again.”


Jempy Drucker: I think the strongest won

The longest stage of the Vuelta a Burgos saw a repeat performance from Jempy Drucker in the bunch sprint to claim second place for the second time in this year’s edition.


The top three was the exact replica from stage 1 with Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky) taking the win ahead of Drucker and Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step) rounding out the podium.


Three remaining riders of the day’s five-rider breakaway were reeled in with 30km to go, followed by a short-lived attack from four riders and Loïc Vliegen who bridged to the group.


The sprint trains caught the five riders 11km before the line, setting the stage for the bunch sprint and Drucker’s second podium result in three days.


Jempy Drucker said:


“The final climb was pretty hard so I had to get over that but I managed to which was good. Then the guys did a really good job to keep me in front in the last 10km. I was in Daniel Oss’ wheel and I got a little bit boxed in with 800 meters to go so I had to brake and I lost his wheel. So then I had to make an effort already before the final turn to put me back into Van Poppel’s wheel. In the final corner his wheel slipped a bit which made me hesitate a bit and he directly had 10 meters and I couldn’t close it anymore. But it all went pretty well and I think the strongest won. We will see what tomorrow is going to bring.”


Sports director Max Sciandri said:


“It was all in again for Jempy Drucker today. The total climbing meters weren’t really enough and even that last climb, although it reduced the size of the peloton, didn’t make a huge difference on the stage so we thought it would come down to a bunch sprint again. The guys worked well on the final climb and pretty much all came over in the front group and then Loic Vliegen jumped in the move with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff). We were pretty on it the whole day. Jempy did a good sprint and the team worked well, so I think we can be happy with second place.


“Tomorrow’s finale has a bit of a kick up towards the finish with some cobbles so it could be pretty well-suited to Jempy again. We’ll have a good look at it and see as it’s going to be pretty tough to get there at the front.”


Another podium spot for Gianni Meersman in Burgos

The final climb – a third-category one – wasn't the toughest of the race, but was still feasible for an attack, and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) tested the water, launching an acceleration to which only three riders had a response. Among them was also Giro d'Italia stage winner Gianluca Brambilla, and the quarted managed to open a 15-second gap on the pack, staying at the front over the top and then on the descent until the final 12 kilometers, when they were caught by the fast-charging peloton, which worked hard in order to see the stage end up in a bunch sprint.


Helped by an excellent Yves Lampaert, who brought him in a good position with around 600 meters to go after safely negotiating two tricky corners, Gianni Meersman nabbed another podium in the Spanish event – Etixx – Quick-Step's third in as many days – behind Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky) and Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC), thus jumping to fourth place in the GC, just three seconds behind race leader Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana). Besides him, Etixx-QuickStep has five more riders in the top 15 – Lampaert, David De La Cruz, Brambilla, Pieter Serry and Maxime Bouet – and their presence is sure to give the outfit plenty of cards to play in the final two days, which will take the race to Lerma, respectively Lagunas de Neila.


Dimension Data: We tried to get rid of the sprinters

An early break of 5 riders was caught with around 30km to go and this worked out nicely for Dimension Data, as the riders lined up the final cat 3 climb of the day. This last climb peaked with just 17km to go and this would be where Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka looked to implement its stage tactic.


The plan was to really make the race hard by upping the tempo on the climb, in the hope of splitting the bunch and setting up a smaller group sprint for Kristian Sbaragli. The team rallied together well and did just as planned. There were even a few attacks over the top from rival teams and this was welcomed, as it it just increased the pressure in the peloton.


The split took place and just less than half the peloton went clear, Sbaragli in the front group with all the climbers there to support him. Omar Fraile was exceptional, driving the pace on the front of the peloton to ensure those late attackers were caught and Sbaragli was able to sprint for the win. Unfortunately before the finale, a few of the sprinters made a return to the peloton but it would still be just 70 riders contesting the victory.


Van Poppel took the win after a good team leadout and Italian sprinter Sbaragli finished the stage in a solid 5th place. The GC hopefuls of Igor Anton, Merhawi Kudus, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Omar Fraile all finished with the front group as well.


Kristian Sbaragli said:

“We tried to make the selection on the climb and in the final it was a much smaller group at the line. The team worked well but the result from me was not that great. I had a few problems in that last corner and I lost a few meters on the front guys which you don’t get back.”


Sports director Alex Sans Vega added:

“Our plan was to try and win with Kristian. There was a steep climb with 25km to go and the race had not been that hard from 50km to go so we decided to increase the speed just before the climb. We made a selection but guys like Van Poppel were able to come back before the sprint. Kristian did the sprint, he had some small issues but Van Poppel is the strongest sprinter here. We don’t think we could beat him but a podium result is possible. The guys did a good job today, they showed solid team work which we are happy with.


In-form Ruben Fernandez ready to go for GC in Burgos

Spaniard Rubén Fernández showed on Thursday at the longest stage (192km) of this year's Vuelta a Burgos that he's more than ready to hobnob within the top guns of the race. Two weeks ago, he finished sixth in the Tour de Pologne and proved to be in form, spending long days at the front under the rain and in climate conditions -under 10ºC- not favouring his body, accustomed to heat. Today, in a much more favourable scenario, on the slopes of the Cat-3 Alto de la Retuerta 20km from Villarcayo's finish, he kept the pace of three GC contenders in Contador (TNK), Brambilla (EQS) and Cataldo (AST).


The third day of racing in northern Spain started in  the Sedano valley, with a five-man group breaking clear - Lizarralde (EUS), Barker (ONE), Del Pino (BUR), Hoekstra (TGA) and Berlato (NIP) - which was caught just before the last climb. The first move came from Contador, later followed by a three-man pursuit including Rubén Fernández. It wasn't a decisive move GC-wise, yet it was a show of what the Movistar Team can bring in the race finale, which looks to be much harder. Another man from Murcia, José Joaquín Rojas, also tried to get in the mix at the final sprint, finishing in 7th spot as Danny van Poppel (SKY) claimed another convincing success.


Fernández (7th) and Gorka Izagirre (8th) also remain within three seconds of the race lead, as Jaimerena's lads tackle the final duo of stages in the Vuelta a Burgos in perfect position. Stage four (145km) will be another flat route with a sting in the tail, from Aranda de Duero to Lerma's cobbled finish after two previous ascents of the Majadal (Cat-3), prelude to Saturday's decisive, seven-climb showdown.


Small gap destroys sprint for Luka Mezgec in Burgos

Slovenian Luka Mezgec clocked his second top ten placing in three days for ORICA-BikeExchange at the Vuelta a Burgos by jumping from the second bunch to contest the sprint on stage three today.


Mezgec was unlucky to be caught just the wrong side as the sprint kicked in and fought hard to try and close the gap, eventually finishing in eighth place.


Sport director Dave McPartland was satisfied with the team’s performance on a long and hot day in the saddle.


“We did very well approaching the finish and managed to get Luka (Mezgec) into a good position,” said McPartland. “The last couple of kilometres were fairly technical and the last two corners before the line were taken very quickly and meant that a slight gap formed at the head of the bunch.


“Luka did an excellent job to finish in the top ten again, especially after having to go wide and then kick again.


“The breakaway shaped most of the stage today and it wasn’t until the last 30kilometres or so that the race started to heat up, we maintained our positions well and I’m happy with the situation going into the tomorrow’s stage


“The finale of tomorrow’s stage four is very technical and slightly uphill, the general classification is still very tight and good positioning will be vitally important. We could see some aggressive racing throughout the stage tomorrow.”


Giant-Alpecin stagiaire takes mountains jersey, Waeytens too tired to sprint

For Giant-Alpecin, Jochem Hoesktra was in the break. As the stage wore on, Hoekstra looked to follow the acceleration of Jesus del Pino (Burgos-BH) from the break but both men were caught by the fast moving peloton with 30km remaining.


Zico Waeytens took 9th place. After a solid performance today, Hoekstra is the new owner of the King of the Mountains jersey.


Zico Waeytens said: “It was a really hard finale today and I was motivated to survive the last climb and to contest the sprint for the victory. The guys kept me in a good position before and during the climb.


“I did make it over the final climb with the front group and I still had Chad [Haga] with me to prepare for the sprint. He did a great job to bring me to the front towards the last km, but I didn’t have the legs anymore to accelerate. Now, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”


“The objective was to hit the break and to be visible at the front of the race,” explained Jochem Hoekstra. “The first hour of racing was really hectic and a lot of groups were riding away. I managed to choose the right moment and came two times first on top of the climbs to secure the mountain jersey. I’m pleased we can keep this jersey in the team for another day.”


Coach Morten Bennekou added: “Once again our stagiaire did a good job to get in the breakaway. Jochem was very active in the break and he took two mountain sprints and thereby the mountain jersey. The finale was really hard because there were a few attacks from the general classification contenders. Zico made it to the line with strong support from Chad but was in the end not fresh enough for a strong sprint.”


Karol Domagalski mixes it up in the sprints in Burgos

Active from the start but a break didn’t establish until 29km when Yanto Barker left the front of the peloton with 4 other riders gaining a maximum advantage of 2 minutes and 52 seconds, ensuring that ONE was represented in the front group.


The pace became intense on the ascent up Alto Retuerto, with many riders struggling to maintain their position in the peloton. After a great effort, Yanto Barker and Lizarralde (Euskadi Basque Country) were dropped from the bunch as they crested the climb and were quickly reabsorbed into the bunch, leaving just 3 lone riders in the lead.


On the second and final ascent up Alto Retuerto before the long fast descent into Villarcayo, the demands of the climb were starting to take effect. Seizing their opportunity, Brambilla (Etixx) Contador (Tinkoff) and Cataldo ( Astana) and Fernandez ( Movistar) attacked off the front gaining a small advantage with only 20km to go. Sebastian Lander and Karol Domagalski were positioned well in the front group as the new leaders surged off the front. As the peloton fought to reign in the advantage Lander worked tirelessly to position Domagalski and help him save as much energy as possible on the run into the finish.


The difficulty of the climb saw the peloton split and the composition on the road change, with the main group being whittled down to approximately 40 riders. Thanks to Lander’s hard work and dedication Domagalski had managed to slip into the main group as they crested the final climb before the descent. 


Karol Domagalski was fighting for position on his own while Sports Director Phil West was offering support and advice from the team car, insisting the Polish rider move forward and hold his position or it would be too hard during the sprint for the line


As the group surged to the line there was confusion as the final few kilometres weren’t as described in the handbook. With a last minute right and left turn before a finishing straight the riders fought with their bikes struggling to position themselves into the final corner having been taken by surprise. Sitting 5th wheel back Domagalski was firmly in the mix on the approach to the line but slipped back slightly as he was swamped by the lead out trains from other teams, crossing the line in 12th position as Danny Von Poppel (Team Sky) celebrated his second victory of the tour.


Astana: Gruzdev is motivated to keep the jersey

"We controlled the race, pulling for most of the day and giving up only a few kilometers from the finish,” said Astana’s Eros Capecchi at the end of the third stage Vuelta a Burgos.


"Dmitri [Gruzdev] is going really strong and is very motivated to keep the jersey as long as possible.”


Gruzdev maintained the leadership in the General Classification that sees in second place his teammate Dario Cataldo.


"We wanted to keep the jersey and I must thank Capecchi, Vanotti, Malacarne and Fominykh for their great commitment,” commented sport director Giuseppe Martinelli.


Katusha leaders stay safe in Burgos, team eyes breakaway in stage 4

Team KATUSHA’s Tiago Machado and Matvey Mamykin finished in the main bunch and are both still in GC 11 seconds behind race leader Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana).


“We could not expect our two GC riders to sprint for the stage win, but they were there. Machado and Mamykin were attentive in front and still keep all possibilities ahead. In theory Saturday’s last and queen stage will decide on the final classification. Tomorrow we can be succesful in the break with some of our riders not playing an important role for the GC, ” said team director Xavier Florencio.


Alberto Contasdor pleased with first test of legs after strong attack in Burgos

The third stage of the Vuelta a Burgos saw the first test for the climbers with three ascents to tackle, the last of which came within the final 25km of the stage. The occasion to test his climbing legs did not pass by Tinkoff’s GC leader, Alberto Contador as he took off when the road turned upwards, spending some time ahead of the peloton before being reeled back in ahead of another group sprint.


At the end of the stage, there was to be no stage result for the team from the reduced bunch kick, but it was a stage marked by a show of strength and courage from Contador who was looking his usual aggressive self on the final climb of the day.


After the stage, Alberto Contador told more about his late move:


"I was very well positioned when a rider in front of me attacked. I decided to follow although I wasn't sure why they attacked. I didn't expect them to come so fast from behind. I saw Gianluca [Brambilla] pass me, so I wanted to collaborate with them to go together but there was no collaboration. There was a lot of people behind, so it was complicated.


“My legs feel good although I could have made a bit more difference. Today was a day of tough work, 200km and I'm satisfied. The first and last climbs were very fast and I feel in very good shape. It was a good day overall for my preparation towards the Vuelta."

 “Today was a stage in between a sprinter’s stage and a hard stage, so they hard to work hard to bring the front back together at the end,” explained Sport Director Ivan Basso from the finish. “On the last climb there was a bit of a selection, and what we saw today is that Alberto’s recovery is going in the right direction, this is the first positive from today. The other is that the guys stayed with Alberto well, and for me this is a good sign that the team is all togerther and commited.


 “It was a better day for Sergio Paulinho, day by day he’s recovering, and he’s still super commited. We’re happy that he feels better, and also with his form. Tomorrow we will go with the same strategy, taking each stage as it comes. Saturday is the big day, but as I said at the start, we have to be patient to build form, doing our best each stage. With this focus and commitment for sure we can end the week with a nice result.”



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