Alicante witnessed today the 3rd and penultimate stage of this Setmana Valenciana. Not as hot as yesterday (“only” 28-29ºC), the peloton started to roll with two features to be noticed by riders and teams: Bussot, the 3rd category climb (quite steep just at the end, but 9 km long) and the probable wind when hitting the coast. Fortunately for the riders, the last did not have any impact on the resolution of the stage, and the 78 kilometres went with no attacks to be mentioned. Cervélo at the front, Drops working at the front on the climbs to keep Ann-Sophie Duyck’s mountain leadership and Wiggle High-5 setting the tempo with 8 kilometres to go for their Italian bullet Giorgia Bronzini.
But racing is unpredictable, and no Wiggle no Alé-Cipollini took the victory. The favourites for the sprint could not make it, perhaps influenced by the controversy of the day: Alé-Cipollini´s D.S. Fabiana Luperini complained to the jury and head of the police that the road book was wrong and misled them, and that they were expecting the race to end 10 kilometres ahead. Indeed the complaint had some basis, as the actual race was 75 k whereas the road book pointed out 87. However, the authorities explained in their defence that this modification in the original circuit had been announced to the teams beforehand. Whether the final results would have changed or not is something which we will never know. But it was quite an unusual sprint.
Arlenis Sierra (Cuba) from Astana Women’s Team crossed the line first, followed by Bronzini and British Katie Archibald, from WNT ended 3rd. Very remarkable the 8th position of young Spanish talent Sandra Alonso, who has proved again (a junior, she was 8th also in Worlds at Doha) she knows how to sprint.
Belgian Ann-Sophie Duyck brilliantly secures the mountain classification (there is no climb tomorrow) with a fantastic ride by the whole Drops Cycling Team. Especial mention to the Austrian Martina Ritter, who is «so strong she could ride 250 k and not even asking for water»
Claudia Cretti keeps the sprint classification jersey and Cristina Martínez is the new best local rider, taking it from her team-mate Alba Teruel (Lointek Team).
And Danish Cecilie Ludwig Uttrup keep the overall with 1 stage to go and 16 seconds on today’s winner Arlenis Sierra. Her team Astana was the best team today as well.
Stage, GC and Youth classifications: http://www.procyclingstats.com/race/Semana_Ciclista_Valenciana__2017_Stage_3_GC
Last but not least, some quotes from riders and staff after this stage:
Donna Rae Szalinski, WiggleHigh5 D.S. : «definitely this is not being our race, but it’s not the end of the world. I really thought Gio (Giorgia Bronzini) had won today, because the team was working well in the final kilometres. I had no news from the radio, so I came in a hurry to the finish line to see if she had won. (On a side note: when we saw her, it was the first thing she uttered: “did Gio win?”)
«Of course the team is a bit disappointed with how things are going these days in Valencia, but the group is not really in its best form, it’s too early in the season. Anyway, you always learn good lessons in days like these, so it’s all right»
Cecilie Ludwig Uttrup, race leader: «the team has worked so amazingly well all day. I am so proud and confident. I really thought maybe I would have problems today to be at the front, but with this group around me I felt so well taken care of. They were amazing. I am so thankful to them. Unfortunately Ashleigh (Moolman-Pasio) crashed and it took a while for her to come back, and then she had to change her bike, but the team rode confidently and not leaving me a single second. When Ashleigh came back, calm was restored, you know. She is so respected in the peloton, that when she is there we are much stronger. One day to go and I hope tomorrow we can keep the jersey. Flat stage but cross winds can play a huge role tomorrow , so we’ll have to work hard for it»
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio: «the motorbike in front of me made an unexpected twist and I could not avoid the crash. I hit my hip, exactly where I had my last crash, so I am a bit worried about it. I hope tomorrow I can be better»
Stage 4 finishes with a circuit in the streets of Valencia, flat 95 kilometres where cross winds can play an important role. The start will be given at 14.00h and hopefully much more public than previous days will gather to cheer on the riders.
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