So, after 780 winless days, Sagan finally gets another Grand Tour stage win... perhaps it will open the floodgates? Be sure to return tomorrow for live coverage of stage four... Adios!
Mijas - Málaga
Vuelta a España - 24 August 2015
Vuelta a España – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 12:49 on 24 August 2015. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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No change in the overall standings with Chaves retaining his five-second lead over Dumoulin, and Roche in third place at 15 seconds.
Degenkolb leads it out first but Sagan powers through and holds off Bouhanni for the win!
Last kilometre and all the big guns are there...
And it's Giant-Alpecin who have taken it up for Degenkolb coming out of a tunnel... LottoNL-Jumbo there too.
Many riders have dropped back now after a very technical section peppered with road furniture.
The downhill and a succession of tight bends has really stretched out the peloton as they pass by Malaga's football stadium.
It's very fast now with the GC boys mobbing the front and trying to keep out of trouble ahead of the magic 3km marker. Movistar are currently seting the tempo.
All the teams are beginning to form and Cousin has been caught and passed. The pace is high now that it's heading downhill again. Cannondale-Garmin were there but faded, ditto Katusha.
The Europcar rider is Jerome Cousin, who enters a tunnel with a handful of seconds over the peloton.
It's bunched up again as the riders tackle this climb, which is currently on a piece of raised dual carriageway. Astana, Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo are all on the front as a Europcar rider jumps clear...
Trek Factory Racing team director Dirk De Mol: "It's all for Danny Van Poppel today. It's a stage that suits him perfectly. In case he didn't feel well, we also have Jasper Stuyven who can try and compete in the final sprint."
The first section of that climb has been done and we're onto a little downhill stretch ahead of the next rise. The pace is high with numerous riders tailed off.
It's all over after Tjallingii is caught - and passed - by the peloton, and even that man Bennati with his gammy hip. The climb is coming up.
And then there was one... Gougeard decides that enough is enough and leaves Tjallingii to his own solo devices. The Dutchman is a determined soul but it's surely all in vain today.
The gap is 35 seconds for the two leaders so it looks like the inevitable will happen soon.
We're approaching that uncategorised climb ahead of the fast finale. We didn't mention it, but Nairo Quintana had a bike swap about 10km back - but he's back with the peloton.
Fraile, Chavanel, Berhane and Pedraza are caught, so it's just Gougeard and Tjallingii out ahead.
The pack is all bunched up again, with Tinkoff-Saxo still doing the lion's share of the work. Peter Sagan has not won a stage on a Grand Tour for over two years - since the 2013 Tour. Will that change today?
Bennati is displaying some nasty road rash on his hip after that crash on the roundabout with Bouhanni earlier. There's quite a headwind as the riders zip up the coast alongside a series of very volcanic-looking sandy beaches.
The race has hit the Mediterranean coast and the leaders have 1:30 now after a little bit of a slowdown on the part of the peloton. This is partly due to many riders dropping back to pick up fresh bidons ahead of today's demanding finale, which includes a punchy climb ahead of the finish.
Chavanel picked up maximum points at the intermediate sprint ahead of Tjallingii and Gougeard. The gap is still 1:20 for the six leaders.
Tinkoff-Saxo going all-in for Sagan at the moment, with around six riders driving the peloton. It's worth adding that their man for the GC, Rafal Majka, came down in the crash yesterday and cut his elbow and knee. The Pole finished 1:14 down and so conceded time to many of his rivals.
The leaders are approaching the intermediate sprint at Torre del Mar with a lead of 1:15 over the pack. Bouhanni is being paced back on by two Cofidis team-mates.
CRASH: Oh no, not good for Bouhanni... he's just come a cropper alongside Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo). They're both back on their bikes, but it does not bode well.
Nacer Bouhanni, who crashed out of the Tour in the opening week, won two stages in last year's Vuelta but is already getting his excuses in ahead of today's likely bunch gallop. He told the official Vuelta site this morning: "I hurt my left thigh and knee by hitting the pedals in the crash (yesterday). I hope it will be alright today. I spent a rather good night. The goal for a sprinter is always to win as early as possible to boost the confidence. After my crash in the Tour I took a little bit of rest and the form came back pretty quickly."
We have six leaders on the front of the race: Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka), Slyvain Chavanel (IAM), Omar Fraile (Caja Rural), Walter Pedraza Morales (Colombia), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo). Martin Velits (Etixx-QuickStep) has been caught by the pack while Ilia Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida) is stuck about 30 seconds back. The peloton is at 1:20 and still being led by Tinkoff-Saxo and Orica-GreenEdge.
Berhane and Pedraza have joined the four leaders, while Velits has been caught by the peloton. Koshevoy, the seventh escapee, is riding somewhere between the leading group and the pack.
This descent is on fresh, relaid tarmac - nice and black and smooth for the riders. The gap is down to 1:42 for the leaders, with the peloton really strung out from the chase led by Tinkoff and Orica.
Velits - who wore the first red jersey of the race after leading BMC across the line in the opening TTT to Marbella - is in fact still off the back of the break, currently around a minute down. Chavanel has been joined by Tjallingii, Fraile and Gougeard in a four-man leading group ahead of the remaining three escapees.
The chase is being led by Tinkoff-Saxo and Orica-GreenEdge - who will have high hopes for their riders Sagan and Ewan. 2:15 is the latest check.
The gap is down to 2:30 for the leaders, with Chavanel joined by Gougeard on the front.
Chavanel edges clear of the break at the start of this descent - which edges up three times before hitting the valley below. Martin Velits was dropped near the summit of that climb but he's fought back on.
Omar Fraile (Caja Rural) takes maximum points over the summit to make it two from two - and he will be in polka dots tonight on the podium. Berhane was second ahead of Pedraza, Chavanel and Gougeard.
The gap is down to 3:20 for the leaders as they near the summit of the Cat.1 Puerto del Leon.
Fabian Cancellara - making his comeback after crashing out of the Tour in yellow with a broken back - finished second to last yesterday. Following Tiralongo's withdrawal, he is the current lanterne rouge of the race. Spartacus was not involved in that crash, but instead has a stomach bug and was unable to take on any food yesterday in the fierce heat.
Two of the big favourites today are John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo). This current climb shouldn't have too much bearing on the outcome, but there's a nasty kicker 5km from the finish which could shed some of the pure sprinters. Also to be considered are the likes of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) and Carlton Kirby's tip for today - Jempy Drucker (BMC).
The break is still riding as one up this first major test of the 80th edition of the Vuelta. The gap is still just above the four-minute mark.
We're onto the major climb of the day... the Cat.1 Puerto del León. Whoever crests the summit in pole position will be in the blue polka dot jersey tomorrow.
Nibali continued: "Regarding the rules of the jury, the first rule is common sense. I don’t think the jury has applied common sense in this case, because I lost so much time waiting for a bike, but anyway I was chasing back from 35k out to 10,and that means I expended so much energy and its on the screen because the TV cameras were with me almost the whole time. I can’t get angry with other riders (for not waiting) because as I always say, racing is racing, and it wasn’t just me in the crash there were plenty of other riders too."
Nibali claimed his disqualification was "double standards" and said he was very "unlucky" but stressed he would "take responsibility for these mistakes". He added: "We saw at The Tour when crashes like this with so many riders involved they stopped the race for 2 or 3 kilometres. Here, with Paolo Tiralongo and Niemec with concussion, when the race blew up they didn’t neutralise the race so its really a horrible situation whether for me, for the fans, for the Vuelta, a little for everyone."
Eurosport spoke to Vincenzo Nibali after his expulsion yesterday. This is what he said: "In my opinion the jury’s decision doesn’t make sense, because on other occasions, in the past, they did something different, with maybe a penalty of a minute or 2, or even 3 minutes, why not? And a fine in Swiss Francs like normal. Instead, I find myself, having prepared for the Vuelta and spent time away from the family - this is also my job that I try to do very well, but I have been very unfortunate this season so for me it was important to try to salvage something from the season so it was really important. So I’m not happy about it and I'm disappointed; nothing more."
The gap is up to 4:20 for the escapees as they continue the long slog ahead of the Cat.1 climb that comes at the half-way point of today's stage.
It's too much for Paolo Tiralongo, who withdraws from the race following those nasty facial injuries sustained in yesterday's crash. So, Astana are now down to just seven riders following his withdrawal and Nibali's disqualification.
Chavanel will hope to put a smile back on the collective faces at IAM Cycling after yesterday's severe set-back of losing both Pelucchi and Tanner. This is the 36-year-old's third consecutive Grand Tour this season - but his last for IAM after his contract runs out at the end of the season. Chavanel has worn the leader's jersey here in 2008 and 2011 but he has never won a stage in the Vuelta.
Eritrean's Berhane is the best placed rider on GC in this break - but the MTN-Qhubeka rider is 3:02 down on Chaves and so not a huge threat for now. Although with the gap increasing to over three minutes now, Berhane is the virtual maillot rojo of the race.
The gap is 2:30 for the escapees as Orica-GreenEdge lead the chase for their man in red, Chaves.
Omar Fraile (Caja Rural) takes maximum points atop the climb ahead of Chavanel and Berhane. Pedraza didn't have the legs. That means Fraile, Pedraza and yesterday's stage winner Chaves all have 3pts at the top of the KOM standings for now.
The leaders are onto the Cat.3 Alto de Mijas. Walter Pedraza (Team Colombia) will be motivated for the KOM points - he's in the blue polka dot jersey after taking the points over the top of the first climb yesterday.
Italian veteran Paolo Tiralongo continues the race despite the advice by his Astana team. Tiralongo came down heavily in the pile-up yesterday, suffering severe facial trauma - as you can see here...
Marcus Burghardt (BMC) did not take to the start today. The big German crashed in an isolated incident yesterday following the pile-up that caused all the drama. Burghardt badly hurt his knee and suffered facial injuries in the crash. He joins injured IAM Cycling pair Matteo Pelucchi and David Tanner, and Polish veteran Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) on the sidelines, plus the disqualified Nibali.
Eight riders have attacked: Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka), Slyvain Chavanel (IAM), Omar Fraile (Caja Rural), Walter Pedraza Morales (Colombia), Martin Velits (Etixx-QuickStep), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R|)-La Mondiale, Ilia Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida) and Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo).
It's another hot, sunny day in southern Spain as the remaining 193 riders roll out of the start at Mijas.
With 10 bonus seconds for the win, Chaves took the red jersey and leads the overall standings by 5 seconds over Giant-Alpecin's Dumoulin, with Roche in third at 15 seconds. Of the GC favourites, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) are in the best positions after taking fifth and sixth on the stage.
The Nibali incident overshadowed a marvellous win for pint-sized Colombian Esteban Chaves of Orica-GreenEdge, who jumped clear of the final climb to take the win ahead of Thomas Dumoulin and Nico Roche.
The big news from yesterday's stage was that 2010 Vuelta champion Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified after footage emerged of the Italian being towed along by his Astana team car in quite brazen fashion following the pile-up which split the peloton around 30km from the finish.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 3 of the Vuelta a Espana, a 158km rude from Mijas to Malaga that features the Cat.1 Puerto del Leon climb slam-bang in the middle but could well conclude with a sprint finish on the Costa del Sol.