No change in the general classification as Nico Roche retained his two-second lead over Nairo Quintana in the battle for red.
Ibi - Alicante
Vuelta a España - 26 August 2019
Vuelta a España – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 11:53 on 26 August 2019. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Jon Aberasturi (Caja-Rural) took fourth and Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Merida) fifth. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) could only take seventh behind his leadout man Max Richeze.
That was a maiden Vuelta stage win for Bennett on the third day of his first appearance in the race.
Bennett won by more than a bike length ahead of Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott).
Victory for Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe). Too easy for the Irishman.
Under the flamme rouge and it's still Sunweb and Bora battling for positions on the front, with Trek getting ready behind.
Sunweb bossing it on the front ahead of QuickStep and Bora.
Of course, there's always the towering Max Walscheid of Team Sunweb - he could sprint a surprise.
Bora-Hansgrohe and Ag2R-La Mondiale edge forward too. The French team have Clement Venturuni for the sprints.
Ferociously fast approach here with Astana also heavily prevalent on the front. Enrico Battaglin of Katusha-Alpecin has dropped his chain so will lose time today.
Into the last 5km and it's not long until Sam Bennett raises his hands aloft in celebration. Unless Luka Mezgec or Fabio Jakobsen prove otherwise...
Roundabouts galore as the peloton rampages through the suburbs of Alicante en route to the expected bunch sprint. Jumbo-Visma are keeping the pace very high - they don't have a sprinter but they're just keeping the pressure on while protecting their GC man Primoz Roglic.
The sprinter teams yet to show their hands as we enter the final 10 clicks.
Jumbo-Visma, Movistar and Sunweb are all on the front, with Astana present too.
The UAE trio decide it's not worth the candle and they have given up the chase. So, no Gaviria in the finale today, which will surely be contested between Sam Bennett, Fabio Jakobsen, Luka Mezgec and one of the Trek guys - John Degenkolb or Edward Teuns.
It's got rather blustery as the race enters the final 15km.
Sergio Higuita wins the intermediate sprint with a huge surge of pace. He did the same at the finish yesterday to lead the chasers home.
The gap has stretched back out to 50 seconds now for Gaviria and so it looks like it's not going to be his day. What a rotten start to the Vuelta for UAE-Team Emirates - Fabio Aru yesterday, aside.
The pack are on an uncategorised climb just before the intermediate sprint. It's a real leg-sapper which will knock the stuffing out of Gaviria and co, who are still 40 seconds back.
Jakobsen, who was dropped on the climb, managed to fight back but Fernando Gaviria, who crashed badly in that opening day TTT for UAE Team Emirates, has lost contact. He's almost one minute back and with two teammates.
Madrazo and Guerreiro have been caught on the descent while numerous riders who had been tailed off have managed to get back into the fold. FDJ and Bora are currently controlling things on the front.
It was Astana's Omar Fraile who led the peloton over the summit to pick up the final KoM point.
Portugal's Ruben Guerreiro (Katusha-Alpecin) has joined Madrazo just ahead of the summit but it's the Spaniard who takes the maximum 3pts to extend his lead in the polka dot jersey standings. The peloton passes just a matter of seconds behind. Will it regroup on the descent?
Dutch champion Fabio Jakobsen is suffering big time and has been dropped by the pack. Is that goodbye to his chances? He's digging deep but is way off the pace as the peloton strings out. Madrazo, meanwhile, extends his lead as the pack appears to slow up a little.
Madrazo attacks again in a vain effort to stay out for those mountain points over the summit. Meanwhile, off the back, Ian Stannard has been dropped by the pack. Rubio and Saez have been caught.
Madrazo's attack came to nothing and he's back with Rubio and Saez, constantly looking over his shoulders because the pack - which has reeled in that De Gendt group - are lurking with intent.
Two Jumbo riders - Powless and Kuss - have joined a rider from Mitchelton-Scott and Marc Soler of Movistar. They catch De Gendt to form a quintet just off the front of the peloton, with the leaders only 10 seconds up the road.
De Gendt's attack has sparked a response by a cluster of riders from Jumbo-Visma and Movistar, which is interesting. They're on a short downhill stretch before the final rise to the line. Mindful of the gap coming down, Madrazo has kicked clear of his two fellow escapees.
We're onto the Cat.3 Puerto de Tibi (6.7km at 4.1%). And there's an early attack from Thomas De Gendt as the gradient ramps up, the Lotto Soudal captain stretching his legs at this key point in the stage.
The leaders are on a sweeping downhill that will take them to the foot of the next climb. It's been resurfaced and so they're getting up to a fair lick. But their advantage is down to 45 seconds. And it's Jumbo-Visma who are on the front of the pack now. Will they have a pop on this climb?
Just 1'20" now for the three leaders so there's no guarantee they will stay out as long as the next climb. There are also some ominous looking clouds on the horizon up in the hills and so we may have a shower before the riders drop down onto the coast for the finish.
Wout Poels, having conceded 10 minutes yesterday, is now on bottles-and-gels duty for Team Ineos. How the mighty have fallen.
Under two minutes now for Madrazo, Rubio and Saez. They won't want it to come back too soon, however, so don't rule out the gap growing again.
Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe) is now on the front to help out with the chase. Scenic it is not: the riders are negotiating the roundabouts and sliproads of another industrial estate near the town of Castalla. They're about to hit a road which they have already used earlier in the stage ahead of the loop inland.
The average speed after three hours is 41.1km/h as Tim 'Breakaway Killer' Declercq keeps the gap around the 2'25" mark for our three leaders.
It's that man Angel Madrazo who takes the maximum 3pts over the summit ahead of Hector Saez. So, his tally is up to 11pts in the KOM standings so his polka dot jersey is safe for another day. Another two days, in fact, because tomorrow only has one Cat.3 climb.
We're onto the Cat.3 Puerto de Biar (2.7km at 4.8%) which is the reason why Angel Madrazo is in this break: he wants to consolidate his lead in the KOM standings.
We're approaching the first of two categorised climbs now with the gap dropping below three minutes thanks to some sterling work from Tim Declercq and UAE's Oliviero Troia on the front of the pack.
Through the feedzone goes the peloton, who trail Saez, Madrazo and Rubio by 3'20".
All three Spaniards in today's break rode together for Caja Rural-Seguros RGA in 2016 and so they'll know each other's strengths and weaknesses very well. They have 3'30" over the pack as they negotiate some roundabouts on an industrial estate. It's not the most scenic of stretches of roads, it's fair to say.
The gap is pushing four minutes again for the three Spanish leaders. It's big Tim Declercq on the front of the pack for Deceuninck-QuickStep, with riders for Bora and UAE Team Emirates also there. Then we have the Movistar team of world champion Valverde and the green jersey Quintana, with red jersey Roche's Sunweb train just tucked in behind.
Orla, Wiggo, Brian Smith, Sean Kelly and Matt Stephens have all gone for Sam Bennett in their predictions today, with just Carlton Kirby opting for Fabio Jakobsen. So, no love for Fernando Gaviria then...
The average speed for the three escapees over the two hours so far today has been 42.4km/h. The gap is 3'45" with both the categorised climbs still left to ride.
CRASH: A number of riders have gone down in the pack. Sunweb, Euskadi-Murias and Katusha-Alpecin all have men down.
Britain's Tao Geoghegan Hart shipped almost 10 minutes yesterday alongside teammate Wout Poels to leave Ineos' GC plans in tatters. Today he spoke to Matt Stephans, who asked him what went wrong on yesterday's decisive climb of the Cumbre del Sol: "It was pretty unexpected. It wasn't too crazy temperature wise but it was humid. I don't know what happened but I just had no legs. All of a sudden I was going backwards and it wasn't even a case of limiting my losses. It came out of the blue and it's just one of those things."
Orla's in green today...
The gap has stabilised to around the 3'25" mark for Madrazo, Rubio and Saez.
The Bora-Hansgrohe team of Sam Bennett have now come to the front to help keep this break in check. The gap has tumbled down to 3'30" for the three Spanish leaders.
Yesterday's hero Quintana picked up a puncture a while back but he's returned to the peloton without any ado. The gap has come down to 5'45" as the road starts to edge uphill on a false flat. It's a sunny day with some cloud cover and a temperature of 28 degrees.
One of my followers on Twitter has sent through some live video images of the break... here you go.
Yesterday's explosive finale - in particularly the stinging double-digit ramps of the Cumbre del Sol climb - took its toll on some of the race outsiders, with Team Ineos duo Wout Poels and Tao Geoghegan Hart crossing the line almost 10 minutes in arrears to leave their GC ambitions in tatters. Wiggins had something to say about that...
The average speed for the first hour today was a blistering 45.9km.
The Deceuninck-QuickStep team of Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen have come to the front of the pack. Jakobsen is making his Grand Tour debut here and will look to get in the mix with Bennett and Gaviria today.
The gap edges above the six-minute mark for the three leaders. Back in the bunch, Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) had a puncture but has returned to the peloton. The Dutchman hit the deck hard in that opening day TTT crash and lost time yesterday after being distanced on the final climb. He's already 2'19" down on GC which is far from ideal for the rider who finished third in the Tour in July and fourth here in the Vuelta last year.
The biggest bonus for Madrazo in picking up the polka dots yesterday is not having to wear his Burgos-BH team's monstrosity of a purple kit today - and tomorrow, it seems, if he keeps things up.
Our classification leaders: Nico Roche in red, Nairo Quintana in green, Angel Madrazo in polka dots and Miguel Angel Lopez in white.
There are a couple of climbs today towards the finish but they're only Cat.3 tests and there's time for things to group back up on the descent towards Alicante. As such, it should be a day for the fast men, which would make the likes of Sam Bennett, Fernando Gaviria, Fabio Jakobsen, Luka Mezgec and John Degenkolb among the favourites.
After a largely flat opening 20km the road is now edging gradually downhill. The pace is high as the gap extends to 5'40" for our three leaders. Remember, that man Madrazo leads the polka dot jersey standings on 8pts with Alejandro Valverde his nearest opponent on 5pts. The world champion took maximum points over the Cumbre del Sol yesterday once the break had been reeled in and before the winning six-man move that included his Movistar teammate Quintana formed.
With his win yesterday, Quintana became the ninth current rider to win at least two stages of each of cycling's Grand Tours. Illustrious company.
Bradley Wiggins was impressed with the Colombian 2016 champion yesterday - and waxed lyrical about Quintana in his new podcast today.
Quintana took a well earned swig of beer on the podium yesterday after his win.
Saez picks up a puncture but is quickly back into the fold. The leaders have four minutes over the pack now with the Sunweb team of red jersey Nico Roche setting the tempo with Lotto Soudal.
This Spanish trio quickly builds up a lead of two minutes after the opening five or six kilometres.
There's an attack from the outset - and it's that man Angel Madrazo again. The 31-year-old was in yesterday's break to pick up the polka dot jersey, and he's gone clear with Burgos-BH teammate Diego Rubio and Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias).
They're off! The remaining 175 riders roll out of Ibi, the home town of the Spanish veteran Ruben Plaza of Israel Cycling Academy (who is not racing in this Vuelta).
One non-starter today: Frenchman Mickaël Delage (Groupama-FDJ) has a throat infection and has withdrawn.
Here's what's in store today...
Here's the new-look top 10 as Nico Roche moved into the red jersey at the expense of Miguel Angel Lopez, who lost touch with the leaders after being left isolated by his Astana team on the Cumbre del Sol climb.
Yesterday - and it's not often you say this on the opening road stage of any Grand Tour - Colombia’s Nairo Quintana attacked an elite group of six riders to win Stage 2 in Calpe ahead of Ireland’s Nicolas Roche, who took over the race lead on an enthralling day on La Vuelta.
Hola and welcome to live coverage of Stage 3 of La Vuelta - a rolling 188km from Ibi Cuidad del Juguete to Alicante which could well conclude with the first bunch sprint of the race.