Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) retained his overall lead at the Vuelta a Espana as Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) won a bunch sprint on stage three.
Kwiatkowski was well-positioned by his teammates on the run into Alhaurin de la Torre, with a particularly tight turn with four kilometres remaining posing a potential threat that was averted by the Team Sky train.
And as Viviani came out on top in the final sprint, the Polish national champion was able to tuck in behind the front group to finish 13th and hold is GC position ahead of stage four’s tricky summit finish which could be another battle of the General Classification contenders.
“it’s not about how long I want to have the jersey [of the race leader], it’s about having respect for it.”, said Kwiatkowski.
“Like in any race, you try to keep it as long as you can. This is not a game, it’s not something you just give away. So bearing that in mind I will try to hold it as long as possible. But I have no idea how long that could be.”
“You don’t know how you are going to go, until you try it out,” Kwiatkowski argued. “Tomorrow is the first checkpoint on the climbs, that’s something I’ve been working on hard. I don’t know if you will see improvements on that tomorrow (Tuesday). I’m working on it, I don’t know how I’ll compare to Quintana and the rest of the bunch.”
“It [Alfacar] is a summit finish, considering the heat in Spain and the dehydration, conserving energy will be important. It’s hard to say who’s got the legs to go for it tomorrow [Tuesday], this is just the first week.”
“At the end of the day, I have to play it smart. If I want to keep that jersey, I have to be focussed on the best performance in that last climb, I don’t know much about it because I haven’t had time in the preparation for the Vuelta to do recon. I’ll know more when I look at the route book, then I’ll know more tomorrow from the sports director. At the moment, I’m kind of flexible.”