Evenepoel Wins Stage 3 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Wednesday’s stage 3 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya was a 180.6-kilometer mountain challenge from Olost to La Molina (Alp). The stage included two category 1 climbs and one Hors Categorie (Outside category) climb, so spectators and cycling analysts expected an exciting stage with much action from the race favorites and their lieutenants.
The first part of the stage was dominated by fierce attempts to break away from the peloton and assemble a strong group of riders that could form a breakaway with a chance of fighting for the stage win.
Eventually, a seven-man group was formed. The group featured Giro d’Italia winner and Vuelta a Espana mountains classification winner Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost), Vuelta a Espana mountains classification winner Guillaume Martin (Cofidis Team), Filippo Zana (Jayco-Alula), Maxim Van Gils (Lotto-Dstny), Niklas Eg (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Simone Petilli (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), and Jefferson Alveiro Cepeda (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA).
Carapaz and Martin had lost time in yesterday’s stage, so the general classification contenders in the main peloton deemed it less risky to let the climbing strongmen break away. At one point the front group’s lead was more than five minutes.
Approximately 50 kilometers from the finish, Soudal-Quickstep replaced Trek-Segafredo at the front of the main peloton with the dedicated mission of setting a faster pace and reducing the lead of the front group - It was evident their team leader Remco Evenepoel was determined to go for the stage win in today’s stage.
With 40 kilometers left to ride and while challenging the Coll de la Creueta, the advantage of the front group had been reduced to two minutes and eight seconds. At this point the front group had been reduced to a quartet featuring Martin, Zana, Carapaz, and Van Gils.
Van Gils and Martin attacked from the front group, Zana was dropped, and Carapaz initiated a successful solo chase to rejoin the front group to make it a trio. The trio carried on further upward into the snowclad mountain territory.
The front trio reached the top of the Coll de la Creueta climb together and continued to cooperate well while descending from the mountain and approaching the final climb of the day. By then, their lead was reduced to one minute and fifteen seconds.
At first Van Gils led the group down from the mountain, but eventually Carapaz got tired of chasing his perfumed scent and took to the front. As the front group reached La Molina – the final climb of the day – their advantage over the main peloton had been reduced to a mere thirty seconds.
Carapaz launched a solo attack with 11 kilometers left of the stage, as the pace had slowed in the front group. Later he was joined by Van Gils.
As the peloton closed in on the duo with 9 kilometers to go, Van Gils counter-attacked, but 500 meters later he was caught by the peloton and Soudal-QuickStep continued to set the pace at the front in support of their World Champion Evenepoel.
4.5 kilometers from the finish Evenepoel launched a powerful attack, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) countered, and race leader Giulio Ciccone tried to catch up, but was unable to follow. The Evenepoel-Roglic duo set a fast pace at the front. The duo had a five second lead with one kilometer left to ride.
Evenepoel soloed across the finish line to take the victory in stage 3. Roglic was the second rider to reach the finish, while Ciccone took third. Bora-Hansgrohe’s Jai Hindley finished fourth.
“I am very happy about this win, and at the same time, proud of my teammates,” stage winner Evenepoel told Roadcycling.com after being celebrated on the podium. ”They showed what a strong squad we are and performed magnificently for me the entire day. I am delighted that it all paid off.”
“It’s amazing. I had good legs, I felt that I was improving as the stage progressed and had a lot of trust in my team. I knew they were capable of making the race as hard as possible from the penultimate climb and that’s what they did, following our plan.”
“In the finale, I knew that I was fast and really wanted to go for it, so I made sure of being first into the last corner and kept pushing. It’s a victory that makes me happy and only adds to our motivation for the next stages,” Evenepoel concluded.
In the general classification Roglic remains Volta Ciclista a Catalunya leader, followed by Evenepoel in the same time, while yesterday’s stage winner Ciccone is nineteen seconds behind.
Tomorrow’s stage 4 will be a 188.2-kilometer ride from Llvia to Sabadell. The route takes the riders southwards and down from the mountains and features a category 1 climb early in the stage and two category 2 climbs later in the stage. Look for a breakaway group to finally succeed or for the sprinters to chase a stage victory.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for additional coverage from Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2023.