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De la Cruz wins third stage in Pais Vasco to claim overall lead

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David de la Cruz

David de la Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) took a narrow solo victory on stage three of the Tour of the Basque Country, taking the overall race lead in Donostia.

Michael Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) won the sprint for second place ahead of Bora-hansgrohe’s Jay McCarthy.

Stage 3 of Vuelta al Pais Vasco was an eventful one, bringing spectacle, drama and a reshuffle of the general classification, after two straight days which ended up in a bunch sprint. Starting from Gasteiz, the 160.5km-long stage took the riders over six ranked climbs, last of which featured just a few kilometers before the finish in San Sebastian, a city renowned worldwide for its gastronomy, cultural events and also for being home of Spain’s only World Tour one-day event.

Sensing the impact the day could have on the overall standings, the peloton kept on a leash all the riders who tried to go clear in the first hour. Eventually, nine men got green light and opened a gap. The maximum advantage fell short of the three-minute mark, as several of the GC contenders’ teams weren’t keen on the idea of letting the escapees take a comfortable margin.

Inside the last 50 kilometers, Julian Alaphilippe was involved in a crash as the bunch was passing through the feedzone, but fortunately he didn’t suffer any injuries and could continue the stage.

With around 20 kilometers left, the breakaway got reabsorbed by the peloton, who put the hammer down and accelerated in an attempt to shake off race leader Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb). Inside the final 15 kilometers, as the riders were climbing on the day’s sixth classified ascent, Mikael Cherel (AG2R) attacked and David De La Cruz responded. Seeing the two of them crafted a gap, the 27-year-old Spaniard pushed clear, distanced the Frenchman and by the time he crested the climb already had a 16-second lead.

Behind, the chase was on, but De la Cruz took advantage of the narrow and twisty roads taking him to San Sebastian, fighting for every second and making sure he’ll take on the final three flat kilometers of the stage with a gap which will keep his hopes of nabbing the win alive. Movistar and Sky pulled hard to reel in the Quick-Step Floors rider, but all they could do was to reduce the deficit as De la Cruz crossed the line victorious for the second time this season, following the closing stage of Paris-Nice.

Tour of the Basque Country 2017 – stage 3 results (Gasteiz – Donostia):

1David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors)

3:54:25

2Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)

+03”

3Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe)

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4Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

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5Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain Merida)

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6Rudy Molard (FDJ)

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7Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)

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8Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe)

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9Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal)

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10Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb)

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General classification after stage 3:

1David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors)

12:14:54

2Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe)

+03”

3Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

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4Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)

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5Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe)

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6Rudy Molard (FDJ)

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7Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal)

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8Luis León Sanchez (Astana)

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9Romain Bardet (AG2R)

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10Ruben Fernandez (Movistar)

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