Mirador de Ezaro - France's
Alexandre Geniez stormed to victory on stage three of the Vuelta a
Espana on Monday as Ruben Fernandez moved into the overall lead.
Geniez took the 176.4km stage from Marin to Dumbria in just under
four-and-a-half hours with Fernandez in second and his Movistar teammate
Alejandro Valverde third.
Tour de France winner Chris Froome finished fourth to rise to third
in the overall standings, but it was another day to forget for
three-time Vuelta champion Alberto Contador.
Contador is looking to match Roberto Heras's record of four Vuelta
wins on home soil but, having lost 52 seconds in the opening stage time
trial, finished 28 a further seconds behind red jersey rivals Froome and
Valverde moved ahead of Froome thanks to four bonus seconds for
finishing third on the stage, to go second overall, seven seconds behind
Valverde's Movistar teammate Nairo Quintana finished a further six seconds back to sit fifth in the general classification.
Geniez had been part of the breakaway group from early on in the
stage and broke clear on his own up a punishing final climb, the first
of 10 summit finishes over the 21-stage Tour.
"A win after such a finish is more satisfying," said Geniez.
Fernandez raised his arms in celebration as he crossed the line,
appearing to be unaware that Geniez had beaten him to the finish by 21
seconds. However, the Spaniard wasn't left without reward as he took
over the leader's red jersey.
"My goal here was working for Nairo and Alejandro. However, I was
told in the finale to ride by myself... and here we are, wearing red and
the leader's jersey in my second Grand Tour," said Fernandez.
"I celebrated out of pure joy, because of the general classification
lead; by the earpiece I was told I would sit first overall after the
stage... I couldn't be happier."
Froome looked in trouble at one stage as teammate and previous race
leader Michal Kwiatowski was dropped on the final climb, but the Briton
worked his way back through the field to ensure his quest to become the
first man to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year since
Bernard Hinault in 1978 remains unharmed.
Astana, who won last year's race with Fabio Aru, suffered a huge blow
when their main general classification rider Miguel Angel Lopez
suffered a heavy crash eight kilometres from the end and needed to be
guided to the finish by his team-mates.
Results from the third stage of the Vuelta a Espana, a 176.4km ride from Marin to Dumbria on Monday:
1. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ) 04hr 28min 36sec, 2. Ruben
Fernandez (ESP/MOV) at 21sec, 3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0:26, 4.
Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:26, 5. Esteban Chavez (ESP/ORI) 0:26, 6. Nairo
Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:32, 7. Igor Anton (ESP/DIM) 0:32, 8. Samuel Sanchez
(ESP/BMC) 00:54, 9. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 0:54, 10. Gianluca
Brambilla (ITA/ETI) 0:54
1. Ruben Fernandez (ESP/Movistar) 9h16:07, 2. Alejandro Valverde
(ESP/MOV) at 7sec, 3. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:11, 4. Esteban Chaves
(COL/ORI) 0:17, 5. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:17, 6. Samuel Sanchez
(ESP/BMC) 0:46, 7. Peter Kennaugh (GBR/SKY) 0:47, 8. Leopold Konig
(CZE/SKY) 0:51, 9. Daniel Moreno (ESP/MOV) 0:58, 10. Gianluca Brambilla
12. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 1:31