The early break on today’s hilly stage involved some big hitters:Visconti(Movistar),Paolini(Katusha),Beppu(Orica),Swamp(Colombia),Marcos Garcia(Caja Rural) and Bizkarra(Euskadi).The peloton wasn’t happy with this group and it was brought back before Brajkovic(Astana),Ravard(AG2R),Txurruka(Caja Rural) and Dempster(NetApp) got away after 17km.With 87km gone Ravard was caught by the peloton after struggling on a climb.As Txurruka was only 25 seconds down on the GC,FDJ kept the gap under 3 minutes to try and protect the leader’s jersey worn by Roux.
As the peloton increased the pace,Brajkovic and Txurruka also increased their pace and shed Dempster from NetApp after 120km.
Caja Rural as lively as usual.They love getting into breaks and animating the race,really looking forward to them doing this in the Vuelta.
FDJ did a great job at keeping a close eye on these two dangerous riders but both of them were fully committed and looked very strong.
FDJ really working hard to try and bring the gap down under 2 minutes with 35km to go.
As they approached the penultimate climb the gap was down to around 1:40.
The writing was on the wall for the break and the gap was down to 20 seconds with 18km to go.
The 2 riders shake hands as they sense the peloton closing in.
He was joined by a Basso,Quintero and Szmyd.
All back together with 5km to go.
The AG2R rider is done and he pulls over to leave Nocentini to try and drive home,but it’s far too far for him to do this.
Nocentini is giving it his all but it’s a poor tactic from his team as there is still 2km to go.
As we approach the 300 metres sign Vaugrenard is still on the front but the others are ready to make their move.Keukeleire is 3rd,Chernetskiy 4th and further back in the orange is Samuel Sanchez.He is fast but his position is poor and he’s left himself too much to do.
With just under 200 metres to go and the road steepening the riders are still waiting to make their move.We have Vaugrenard,Roux,Keukeleire,Chernetskiy,Failli,Sanchez and Ratto.
The young Belgian times his jump perfectly and Roux is now struggling.Sanchez is looking strong but is too far back,Ratto is behind him.
Keukeleire seals another victory with Roux finishing in 2nd and Ratto in 3rd.Ratto finished very strongly but left himself way too much work to do,due to poor positioning.Another excellent day for Orica GreenEdge.
2.Ponzi 2 secs
3.Chernetskiy 2 secs
4.Keukeleire 3 secs
6.Sanchez 10 secs
8.Nocentini 11 secs
9.Cataldo 11 secs
12.Caruso 13 secs
16.Quintana 17 secs
17.Arroyo 17 secs
20.Nibali 24 secs
Stage 4 should result in a group sprint and not have an impact on the overall standings,so all will rest on the final stage on Sunday.I would say that the overall fight will be between Sanchez,Nocentini,Cataldo,Caruso,Quintana,Arroyo and Nibali.