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“Then, as last man I had Jay McCarthy who paced me up to perfection to deliver the sprint in style, and this kind of finishes are most suited to my skills.”

Photo: Sirotti

DAMIANO CARUSO

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FABIO FELLINE

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JUAN JOSE LOBATO

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NTT PRO CYCLING TEAM

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OMAR FRAILE

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OSCAR GATTO

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ROOMPOT-CHARLES

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SIMON GESCHKE

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TEAM SKY

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TEJAY VAN GARDEREN

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TIM WELLENS

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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VUELTA A ANDALUCIA

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WILCO KELDERMAN

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19.02.2016 @ 20:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two days after the impressive stage win for Daniele Bennati, Oscar Gatto became the second Italian sprinter in the Tinkoff team to win a stage at the Vuelta a Andalucia. Having made it into a 40-rider group on the final climb, he was led out by Jay McCarthy in the sprint and easily held off Ben Swift (Sky) and Raymond Kreder (Roompot) in the final dash to the line. The Brit takes the leader’s jersey on the eve of the time trial.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Oscar Gatto: This kind of finish suits me really well

Oscar Gatto won the final sprint of stage 3 hands down, clinching his first victory of the season. Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger finished once again in the leading group, retaining their GC aspirations ahead of tomorrow's tough time-trial.

 

The third stage of the Ruta del Sol, from Monachil to Padul (157.9 km), featured an undulating terrain with a third-category and three second-category climbs, set on the foothills of  Sierra Nevada. Nine riders initiated an early breakaway with Manuele Boaro in it.

 

The escapees managed to build a maximum gap of 3:50 but several teams were pulling hard behind them in order to bring them back. The breakaway was caught at the bottom of the climb to Puerto del Legionario, which made a selection in the peloton. Rafal Majka, Roman Kreuziger and Oscar Gatto managed to always stay in the front positions of the group.

 

After the summit, the peloton tackled a final hilly stretch, taking a group of about 40 riders into the final sprint. The Tinkoff train brought Oscar Gatto in the best position for the sprint, where the Italian rider truly made a difference, by winning hands down with more than a bike length on second-placed Ben Swift.

 

"Today's parcours was challenging and this morning we gathered better information on it, which led us to a change in our tactics. This allowed us to keep our calm, thanks as well to the fact we had Manuele Boaro on a breakaway”, stated Sport Director Bruno Cenghialta

 

“The teams chasing the breakaway worked very hard and spent a lot of energy, so in the last part of the stage we managed to position four riders in the leading group heading into the final sprint. For Oscar Gatto it was a superb stage. Yesterday, he already had very good vibes but was unlucky as he punctured. As a result, today we were relying on him. This morning I told him that today he'd have a very big chance, so he took it. When you're in such a great shape as he is now, you must take advantage of these opportunities, and Majka together with Kreuziger perfectly positioned him for this sprint, slightly uphill, where thanks to his amazing power he was able to win hands down”.

 

Oscar Gatto, today's winner, commented on the stage: "I was feeling very well already in the first stage,  I was fit, then we won with Bennati, so that was perfect. Yesterday, I was in the leading positions after passing the summit but unfortunately I punctured in the descent so I had to get a new wheel and say goodbye to my dreams of glory. Today, I was feeling very fit again, so on the final climb there were about thirty riders and I was there and the feeling was good. I was very pleased that great riders such as Majka and Kreuziger helped me today. Then, as last man I had Jay McCarthy who paced me up to perfection to deliver the sprint in style, and this kind of finishes are most suited to my skills".

 

Saturday will see the fourth stage of the race, an individual time trial of 21 km with a slightly uphill final 3 km, that is bound bring some changes in the GC in view of the final and decisive stage on Sunday.

 

“Tomorrow we face a very tough time trial. It's a test of strength, so it's quite clear that it's going to be a matter for specialists. The parcours is very demanding and we're going to check it thoroughly to make sure we have everything under control. This time trial will tell us more about the real forces on the field", concluded Bruno Cenghialta.

 

Ben Swift bounces back from difficult season by taking the lead in Andalusia

Ben Swift surged into the race lead at the Ruta del Sol after sprinting to second place on stage three in Padul.

 

The Brit was beaten to the line by Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff) but the 28-year-old's consistency was rewarded with the overall lead, following his 11th place on the opening day and podium finish on day two.

 

Team leader Wout Poels rolled in 15th to keep him in the running ahead of the last two days in southern Spain, when the climbers are likely to come to the fore.

 

With the race back together by the time the riders reached the day's final climb, with 25km of the 157.9km stage left, Team Sky set a punishing tempo up the second-category ascent, with Vasil Kiryienka particularly impressive up front.

 

Swift was protected brilliantly by his team-mates and was afforded a better lead-out than he had been on day two but, despite starting his sprint early, Gatto had too much for the new race leader.

 

“It was a hard stage, the last climb was bloody steep in places,” Swift told Cyclingnews. “And then in the sprint, we took control, the guys did a really good job. It all started and I came round, but I got a bit tangled up with McCarthy in the finish and that took my speed a little bit, and then Gatto just came up a bit faster. It would have been nice to have won, obviously, but we’ll keep trying.

 

”I’ve slowly been getting better and better. I had a completely different winter this year. I did my training in South Africa and then in Australia. It’s been really good, but I didn’t do any top end training until January and I really noticed that in Down Under. Each race so far, has been getting better and better and better. So hopefully we can continue the progression.”

 

Sport Director Dario Cioni was happy to see Swift move into the leader's jersey, but admitted it wasn't quite the perfect day.

 

He said: "It turned out to be a good day but not the perfect day we had hoped for. We only got the leader's jersey when we wanted the stage win too, but it's nice to see the team working really well again, and it's just a pity Ben couldn't get on top of the podium.

 

"Kiryienka is in really good shape and Gianni [Moscon] did a really good job for a neo-pro. He's showing that he can do some great stuff. Also Wout is really happy with himself and how he's been supported by the team."

 

Tomorrow's stage is a 21km individual time trial and Cioni is confident team leader Poels will perform well.

 

"Wout is really confident coming off the win at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and he wants to repeat that here. A good time trial is key to winning the GC and he won the time trial in Valencia so why can't he repeat it?

 

"But let's not forget we've still got Kiry, the world time trial champion. Hopefully we can come out with the stage win tomorrow."

 

Raymond Kreder surprises himself in Andalusian mountains

After several good performances all year, Raymond Kreder (Roompot) confirmed his excellent form by sprinting to third.

 

“Surprised myself today on the last climb. I went very deep. In the sprint U was beaten! Today I am satisfied with third place,” he tweeted.

 

Tosh van der Sande unable to survive Andalusian climbs

Tosh van der Sande was dropped on the final climb and so it was left to Tim Wellens to sprint to fourth for Lotto Soudal.

 

”Dammit didn't survive ,they went to fast for me today on that final climb ! Next TT and queen stage,” van der Sande tweeted after the stage.

 

Poor position costly for Fabio Felline in Andalusia

In the undulating 158-kilometer stage three in the Vuelta a Andalucia (Ruta del Sol), Markel Irizar powered at the head of affairs for most of the race after joining a nine-man move that stayed away until the final steep ascent less than 25 kilometers from home.

 

With the breakaway contained, the race quickly exploded on the steep pitch leaving a reduced bunch to fight out the stage win. Outnumbered in the tricky, gradual uphill finish, Fabio Felline was unable to maneuver into proper position, leaving him frustrated with fifth place after sprinting to a stellar second yesterday. Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff) won the stage as Ben Swift (Sky) took second and the overall lead.

 

"I am not happy with the sprint because my condition is good," explained Felline. "I made a big mistake, and I started too far behind. It was just me, Bauke [Mollema] and Haimar [Zubeldia] in the front group, and Bauke did his best to help me, but with only one guy it was difficult to keep good position to make a good sprint.

 

"I look at the positive: it's another time I arrive with the front group. We will see tomorrow or the final day, but for today, I am not happy. I want to give a big thanks to my teammates because of their confidence in me, and this is important."

 

Tomorrow the five-day race continues with a 21-kilometer time trial. Fabio Felline sits in 5th overall and is no slouch when it comes to the 'race of truth'.  

 

Damiano Caruso takes mountains jersey, van Garderen ready for time trial

It was a solid day in the saddle for BMC Racing Team on stage 3 of Ruta del Sol with Damiano Caruso claiming the King of the Mountain jersey and Brent Bookwalter and Philippe Gilbert finishing in the top ten.

 

Caruso formed a nine rider breakaway early in the 157.9km stage which built and maintained a four-minute lead over the peloton.

 

The peloton caught the breakaway with 25km to go, making way for another bunch sprint to the line. Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff) took the win, and Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Raymond Kreder (Roompot) rounded out the top three.

 

Caruso is happy to be wearing the KOM jersey.

 

“It was a big battle on the climb to get the points and get this jersey. It was a good day for me. We had a good breakaway but there were too many people who wanted to win today so eventually we knew that we would be caught before the end of the stage,” Caruso explained.

 

“Tomorrow we have the ITT so I’ll try and perform well again there, and then on Sunday for the final stage I’ll be focusing on defending the KOM jersey.”

 

Gilbert now sits fourth overall on the General Classification, with the same time as new race leader Ben Swift.

 

Tomorrow the riders are set to battle it out in a 21km individual time trial in and around Alhaurin de la Torre.

 

Tejay van Garderen is looking forward to testing the legs tomorrow.

 

“I’m feeling really good. We’ve had three good tests but the real tests are to come with the ITT and the summit finish so that will reveal a lot more. We have some important time trials coming up this year so tomorrow will be a good course for my first time trial of the season,” van Garderen said.

 

Simon Geschke takes first top 10 result in Andalusia

Simon Geschke made it over the climb with what was remaining from the peloton and he was able to contest the stage victory in a reduced sprint. Well-positioned by his teammates, Geschle managed to sprint to 7th place and capture his first top ten finish of the season.

 

Coach Arthur van Dongen said: “The goal of the day was to have a rider in the breakaway with either Georg [Preidler] or Roy [Curvers]. After 10km, nine riders jumped away from the peloton with Georg but on the first climb, Georg got dropped which was unfortunate

 

“On the final climb, Sam [Oomen], Simon and Tobias [Ludvigsson] managed to stay in the first group with about 45 riders. In the last 2km, Sam and Tobias gave a good lead-out for Simon in the sprint.

 

“It has been a good day for the team with Simon finishing in 7th position and we look forward to the ITT of 21km tomorrow.”

 

Bad luck for local hero Juan Jose Lobato in Andalusia

Bad luck hit Juanjo Lobato for the third day on a row as a mechanical failure in the opening slopes of the Puerto del Valle (Cat-2), the decisive point of stage three in the Vuelta a Andalucía - 158km between Monachil and Padul - prevented the Andalusian from testing his speed in a sprint quite more reduced than on previous occassions, partly due to exceptional teamwork by Erviti and Sutherland. Oscar Gatto (TNK) prevailed in a 50-strong bunch, with new race leader Ben Swift (SKY) in second place.

 

Alejandro Valverde and Rubén Fernández were 11th and 13th over the line after a demanding day, yet with no significant changes for the GC contenders, before Saturday's crucial 21km time trial in Alhaurín de la Torre. The route offers no rest for the specialists already from the opening phase, with a tough finish across the Camino del Comendador on gradients reaching 15%. Javi and Dani Moreno also keep the same time as the leader.

 

Wilco Kelderman tries his hand in Andalusian sprint

Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff) won the third and difficult stage in the Ruta del Sol today in Spain. Wilco Kelderman tried to interfere in the final sprint, but was trapped and could not play a significant role. Sky’s Ben Swift took over the race lead. 

 

The stage covered several climbs. Bert-Jan Lindeman rode in the front group all day, but was caught before the finale climb. Movistar’s pace was high and many riders couldn’t follow.

 

Sport Director Addy Engels said, "It was certainly not a pointless escape given Movistar thought it was a strong and dangerous one and closed the gap just before the final climb. Wilco Kelderman and Steven Kruijswijk had no problems.”

 

For Paul Martens and Enrico Battaglin the pace was just too high so team LottoNL-Jumbo could not count on its sprint. In the last kilometre, Steven Kruijswijk guided Wilco Kelderman forward to mix in the final sprint.

 

"Steven brought me forward but that was just a little too early," said Kelderman. "The road ran slightly down so I was caught up left and right."

 

On Saturday, they must race an individual time trial. Kruijswijk, Kelderman and Keizer will give it their all.

 

"I don’t want to say what’s possible now," continued Engels. "They just have to go full speed. Then we see again how their conditions is.”

 

Oh so close for Omar Fraile in Andalusian hills

Once again Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka put an exciting twist on the final stages of the race, just as they had done during yesterday's stage. When the early break of 9 riders had been caught around the 22km to go mark, Igor Anton and Omar Fraile both looked to take their chances.

 

Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) would be the first to attack on the final categorised climb of the stage and Anton would respond moments later, trying to bridge the gap. The peloton which was led by Team Sky and Movistar picked up the tempo to bring back Anton on a plateau section of the climb. As the climb kicked upward again, Fraile put in an attack with Navarro 30 seconds up the road.

 

With 16km to go our Basque rider put his head down and slowly started to reel in the Cofidis rider. The peloton knew the alarm bells were ringing and they had to ride really hard to keep the gap under 30 seconds, which saw a number of riders getting dropped. It took a big effort from Fraile to get across to Navarro who was clearly going well, but the two eventually joined up with 8.5km to go. At this point the gap was down to just 10" as a few sprint trains had formed in the 50 rider chase group.

 

Fraile and Navarro had enough belief between them though to keep pushing on and at one point an upset for the sprint teams seemed to be on the cards. Unfortunately, as the leading duo crossed under the 1km to go banner, they were swallowed up by the chase group. Gatto took the win after a good leadout from his team.

Fraile and Anton both finished in the main group along with teammates Kanstantsin Siutsou and Cameron Meyer. Tomorrow is an undulating 21km individual time trial, a stage which could suit the likes of Siutsou.

 

”I felt really good today, especially during the second part of the stage,” Fraile said. “I attacked and rode across to Navarro. We know each other well and we could work together but it was difficult to hold off the peloton riding into the headwind. I am feeling pretty good though so I look forward to more racing with a lot of positivity.”

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