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La Vuelta | 3. Etappe

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Stage 3 report: Taaramae in red after Picon Blanco glory

Rein Taaramae rode clear of an eight-man move to win Stage 3 of La Vuelta atop the Picon Blanco to become the first Estonian in history to secure the red jersey. A decade after his first and last stage win on the Vuelta, the 34-year-old Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert rider got the better of American Joe Dombrowski and France’s Kenny Elissonde, who he now leads by 25 seconds on GC. Overnight leader Primoz Roglic drops to third.
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And here's how he did it...

New top five on GC

Five years after his last win on the Giro and a decade after his last Vuelta victory, Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert's Rein Taaramae, 34, turned back the years to become only the second Estonian to lead a Grand Tour after Jaan Kirsipuu in the 1999 Tour de France.
1. Rein Taaramae
2. Kenny Elissonde +25
3. Primoz Roglic +30
4. Lilian Calmejane +35
5. Enric Mas +45

Stage 3 result

1. Rein Taaramae
2. Joe Dombrowski +21
3. Kenny ELissonde +36
4. Lilian Calmejane +1:16
They were the only remaining escapees who survived before Enric Mas took fifth place at 1:45 - three seconds clear of the red jersey group, which was led home by a second Movistar rider, Miguel Angel Lopez. The likes of Mikel Landa, Primoz Roglic, Giulio Ciccone, Alejandro Valverde and Egan Bernal were all there, but Hugh Carthy came home 2:09 down.

Taaramae in red

Enric Mas zips clear to take a few seconds on his rivals as the pack comes home around 1'50" down. That will be the red jersey for today's stage winner. But it looks like some GC riders lost out today with Hugh Carthy being dropped along with a few others...

Victory for Rein Taaramae

The veteran Estonian digs deep as he takes a second win on the Vuelta 10 years after the first. And now the clocks start ticking and we see if he can secure the red jersey with it. Joe Dombrowski is second at 25 seconds and Kenny Elissonde third at 36 seconds.
Valverde, Yates, Lopez and Mas lead the way on the front ahead of the red jersey in the pack as they come home... and Taaramae has done it.

Final kilometre

Rein Taaramae enters the fog and goes under the flamme rouge with a decent gap - he looks so calm and serene as he rides towards what will be a massive win for him and his Intermarche team. Carapaz has been dropped again while Burgos-BH have sent a rider or two clear of the main pack. After all their pace setting, Bahrain's Landa seems to have not been able to finish things off.

1.5km: Carapaz yo-yoing off the back

With Ineos teammate Adam Yates on the front of the pack, the man with the golden bike (or is it orange?) seems to be dropped by the main pack before battling onto the back again. He's clearly suffering a bit out there.

2km: Taaramae takes off

A decade after his first and last stage win on the Vuelta, the Estonian is on the front foot for a second. There's an outside bet that he could even take the red jersey too: he went into today's stage 1'28" down on Roglic. What a story that would be for the 34-year-old.

3km: Sepp Kuss off the back

The man in polka dots has been dropped, which is a surprise. Andrea Bagioli, the white jersey, has also been dropped by the pack. Taaramae kicks clear and drops Elissonde, with Dombrowski also fading. What a ride from the Estonian veteran. UAE meanwhile have David de la Cruz going clear of the Bahrain-led pack.

3.5km: Poels pulling

Padun passes the baton over to Wout Poels who digs in for Bahrain ahead of the expected Landa attack. The gap is 2'40" now for the leaders so it's still on a knife edge. Dombrowski won the Giro's first mountain stage and could well do it again today - but in Taaramae he has a worthy opponent. The Estonian looks ice cool - and that man Kenny Elissonde is still plugging away in their wheel.

5km: Padun pulling

It's the Ukrainian Mark Padun - winner of back-to-back mountain stages in the Dauphine - who is setting tempo in the peloton now at the head of a four-man Bahrain-Victorious train. Dombrowski is back with the break. It's five men on the front: Calmekane, Amezqueta, Taaramae, Elissonde and the aforementioned American. The gap is 3'10".
Amezqueta is the latest to feel the pinch, the Spaniard being tailed off after Dombrowski digs in and takes Taaramae and Elissonde with him. Calmejane is a few lengths back and probably regretting that earlier move.

6km: Calmejane caught, Dombrowski attacks

Bol, Soto and Bayer have been dropped from the breakaway with Calmejane reeled in and now Dombrowski putting in a dig. It was Ineos Grenadiers who led the pack onto the climb but the pace has slowed now that they're going up. The gap is 3'30" so it should be enough for the leaders...

8km: Cat.1 Picon Blanco

We're onto the final climb now which is 7.6km long at 9.3%. It has three sections of double-digit gradients and it's a narrow and twisting - and at times straight and featureless - road to the summit.
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10km: 15 seconds for Calmejane

For all his efforts, the Frenchman only has 15 seconds over his fellow escapees with the peloton four minutes back. Calmejane is riding throigh Espinosa de los Monteros at the foot of today's final climb.

15km: Calmejane ups the tempo

The Frenchman is trying to force a shake-out ahead of the Picon Blanco - he's probably heard that the gap is below four minutes now. Meanwhile, there's been a crash in the pack after a touch of wheels on the right, resulting in four riders hitting the deck, including Sander Armee and James Piccoli.

16.5km: Peloton go over the top

A few riders got tailed off there as the gradient ramped up. The gap is down to just 4'30" now and so it's not a given that these eight riders will stay out. Theyr'e on one final small uncategorised hill ahead of the final climb, where it will all kick off in the first genuine red jersey showdown of this Vuelta.

20km: Bayer takes KOM points and bonus seconds

It's Soto who leads it out but Bayer who surges past the Spaniard to take the 3pts over the summit and the three bonus seconds. With Soto taking two bonus seconds he's now three seconds ahead of the Austrian on the virtual GC with Calmejane, who was third over the top, now 10 seconds back. Elissonde, who won the first climb today, was right at the back there - he's clearly tiring from this long day in the saddle.

23km: Alto de Bocos

The break are onto the penultimate climb which is 2.8km long at 6.3 per cent. With 3 KOM points up for grabs over the summit there should be a big battle going over the top, with that man Elissonde hoping to move into the outright lead in the KOM standings. The gap has dropped below seven minutes for our leaders so the pendulum may be swinging back in the favour of the fresher climbers in the peloton...
"The peloton is closing in but I think it's going to be too little too late for them and the breakaway will hold on," says Sean Kelly as the gap drops below six minutes.
Meanwhile, Enric Mas is back in the pack after picking up a puncture. The Spaniard is one of Movistar's three leaders alongside Miguel Angel Lopez and Alejandro Valverde. Just 18 seconds down on Roglic, Mas is the best placed of the trio with Lopez at 21 and Valverde at 28. So, still very tight the top, which bodes well for The Least Expected Day series three...

Foggy up top...

Current scenes from today's summit finish at Picon Blanco, which is living up to its name...

36km: Amezqueta wins sprint

The Spanish rider wins the sprint after France's Calmejane opened it up on the other side of the road, with Bayer taking third. Here's a reminder of these eight escapees who will now hit the first of two final climbs with a sizable 8+ minute lead over the pack: Lilian Calmejane (Ag2R-Citroen), Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Fenix), Jetse Bol (Burgos BH), Julen Amequeta (Caja Rural), Antonio Soto (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) and Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates).

45km: Intermediate sprint approaching

The gap is still 8'35" for the eight leaders as Jumbo commit a second rider to the front ahead of the Bahrain train. Deceuninck-QuickStep have a few riders in the mix, too, which is because the intermediate sprint is coming up. Three riders are tied on 50 points in the battle for green - QuickStep's Fabio Jakobsen, Alex Aranburu of Astana and yesterday's winner Jasper Philipsen of Alpecin-Fenix. My colleague Tom Owen wrote this piece below about how the battle for green could well outdo the fight for red this year...

60km: Bahrain Victorious edge forward

Mikel Landa's teammates - in their limited edition untuned-television kit - have come to the front of the pack behind a solitary man from Jumbo-Visma. Landa has won on this final climb before and he will look to test his legs and put some of his GC rivals under pressure today. His KO in the Giro was so unfortunately given the Basque climber's form and the field he was competing against. Can he salvage something from his season in Spain?
This is what Landa - currently 39 seconds down on Roglic - said this morning: "I think I'm not yet a favorite, but it's a final I like and I know well. It's a hard climb, with super hard sections, and then some easier parts, and the wind usually plays a part. The earlier I can gain time back, the better, but we'll see if today is about attacking or defending."
More on that eye-rubblingly loud kit here:

65km: Richard Carapaz primed

Third in the Tour, second last year in Spain, the recent gold medallist from Tokyo 2021 could well be one to watch on Picon Blanco. We don't yet know what Ineos Grenadiers' master plan is with their three-pronged attack, but with Adam Yates already losing time and the Giro champion Egan Bernal perhaps biding his time, Ecuador's Carapaz could sniff out a chance today. The stage win will be difficult now that the gap is nine minutes but he could look to put him in the window for a tilt at GC.
Carapaz said this before the stage: "It's a special day, we want to do our best and be up there. It's not only about winning time, but also not losing. It will be an explosive day and many will try because some riders lost time in the crash or the time-trial. Picon Blanco will be hard, it's 8km with high gradients and the last kilometres are really steep and exposed so we'll see what happens."

75km: Picon Blanco awaits

Today's final climb is 7.6km at a savage 9.3 per cent. It's rare to have such a difficult test so early in a Grand Tour so and its impact on the general classification could be pretty huge with many riders yet to find their racing legs and some - perhaps even the current man in red - perhaps not back to their best after earlier crashes and efforts in the season.
The climb is a regular in the Vuelta a Burgos - with Mikel Landa (2017), Miguel Angel Lopez (2018) and Romain Bardet (2021) all winners on its summit - but it's making a first appearance in the Vuelta a Espana. Coming so deep into a stage that is over 200km long, it's fair to day the Picon Blanco could well blow things apart.

85km: Red jersey very much up for grabs

It really does look like Jumbo are happy to gift Roglic's maillot rojo to one of these escapees. Their gap is up to 8'40" which should be big enough ahead of the two climbs that conclude today's stage.
"Someone is going to be in the red jersey tonight and it's not Primoz Roglic," says Brian Smith in the commentary box.

98km: Jumbo-Visma lead the pack

We finally have live images of today's stage and the breakaway's lead is up to 7'15" and so it looks like the winner will come from this eight-man move with one of them likely to be in red at the end of the day. The Jumbo-Visma teammates of Primoz Roglic front the peloton but there's not too much concern for now about the gap. As Carlton Kirby says, it's a "moderately relaxed atmosphere in the peloton with everyone sort of leaning on Jumbo-Visma for now. No great panic for the time being."

102km: Over six minutes now

The leaders have 6'28" as they approach the halfway point of this stage. It's not as hot as yesterday or Saturday out there: the temperature is currently a clement 20 degrees Celsius with that dropping to just 5 degrees on the misty summit of the final climb of Picon Blanco.

120km: Frison abandons

We're hearing that Belgium's Frederik Frison has withdrawn for Lotto Soudal. More on that when we get it. He was leading out teammate Florian Vermeersch yesterday in the sprint.

125km: Roglic happy to concede red jersey

The Slovenian defending champion may like the idea of leading this race from start to finish but he and his Jumbo-Visma team may also make a tactical call to concede the maillot rojo today to avoid all the extra baggage that goes hand in hand with leading the Vuelta. None of today's escapees are a long-term threat to Roglic for the general classification which is why the gap is pushing six minutes now.
Before the stage, Roglic said about today's finish at Picon Blanco: "It's super hard. We'll definitely give our best with the guys. The red jersey is our main goal today and we'll see how the stage goes." But by saying the red jersey is his "main goal" I imagine he's talking about the big picture - ie. not conceding time to any major GC rivals - rather than a short-term handing-over of the leader's jersey. Time will tell.

138km: Time to descend

The break have completed a stretch running alongside the Embalse de Uzquita - a dammed lake to the east of Burgos - and are now reaching the top of a brow ahead of the next phase of this gradual and staggered descent. We'll have a few uphill lips along the way before they hit the long valley road ahead of the intermediate sprint and the final two climbs. The gap is now 5'15" for our eight leaders.

152km: Bayer back after mechanical

Austria's Tobias Bayer needed a bike change after a mechanical on the descent but he's now back with the break which has a lead of 4'45" over the pack. Along with Bol and Amezqueta, Bayer is one of three riders in this move without a professional win to their names. Taaramae leads the way with 18 wins, Calmejane with 12, Dombrowski with four, Elissonde with two and Soto on one.

164km: Cat.3 Puerto del Manquillo

It's the Frenchman Kenny Elissonde who leads the break over the summit of the climb (7.2km at 4.3%) ahead of Bayer and Soto with a gap that is now well over four minutes for the leaders. That puts Elissonde level with Sepp Kuss on 3pts in the nascent KOM standings. With two more climbs on the agenda, the Frenchman is a good bet for the polka dot jersey today.

172km: Soto the virtual maillot rojo

The best placed rider on GC in this eight-man move is the Spaniard Antonio Soto, who started the day just 29 seconds down on Primoz Roglic. With the gap now three minutes, he's the virtual red jersey on the road - by four seconds on the Austrian Bayer and nine seconds on the Frenchman Calmejane.

178km: Gap pushing three minutes

The break formed on a little kicker and the leaders are now down the descent and ploughing on up the valley to the foot of today's first climb. Already the gap is approaching the three-minute mark which bodes well for the more climbing minded of these escapees - the likes of Calmejane, Elissonde, Taaramae, Bol and Dombrowski - all of whom could be eyeing up a win today.
It's worth mentioning that both Estonia's Taaramae and the American Dombrowski were in the breakaway for the first mountaintop finish in the Giro, which resulted in a maiden Grand Tour stage win for Dombrowski (albeit the day before he crashed out of the race after careering into some road furniture and taking Mikel Landa down with him).

185km: Eight riders go clear

We finally have a breakaway that has formed. The riders are: Lilian Calmejane (Ag2R-Citroen), Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Fenix), Jetse Bol (Burgos BH), Julen Amequeta (Caja Rural), Antonio Soto (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) and Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates).

Alpecin-Fenix's blistering start in the WorldTour

Eyebrows were raised when Alpecin-Fenix were elevated into the WorldTour at the start of the season with many people claiming it was only because of Mathieu van der Poel. But while the Dutch superstar has kept his side of the bargain by lighting up the first week of the Tour with a stage win and a run in yellow, his team have done extraordinarily well across all three Grand Tours - they have certainly enough to show that they are more than a one-man band.
Philipsen's Stage 2 win yesterday means that Alpecin-Fenix have now won the first sprint in each of cycling's Grand Tours this season after Belgium's Tim Merlier won Stage 2 of the Giro and also Stage 3 of the Tour. Now they just need to work on their staying power: the team have not yet tasted success deep in a Grand Tour, in fact not even beyond day three...

Fabio Jakobsen crashed at the start

We're hearing that the Dutchman went down shortly after kilometre zero but that he's back on his bike and all okay. Jakobsen was second yesterday behind Belgium's Jasper Philipsen on his return to Grand Tour sprinting following his horrific crash in the Tour de Pologne last year.

195km: Gibbons move comes to nothing

There's an early attack from South Africa's Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates) but he can't get much headway from the peloton, which is zipping along at quite a fair lick.

202.8km to go: Stage 3 is under way

We're only on the third day but the first summit finish of this year's race - the first of 10 uphill finishes in total - is on the cards with the Cat.1 ascent of Picon Blanco deciding the outcome of this 202.8km slog through the Spanish heat. The riders have rolled out of the neutral zone and the race has got going.
https://i.eurosport.com/2021/08/16/3202202.jpg

How can I watch the Vuelta?

You can watch the race unfold on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app and Eurosport 1 across the three weeks.
An ad-free livestream of the Vuelta a Espana 2021 will run throughout the event on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. You can download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.
You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.

Stage 2 recap: Philipsen wins the sprint

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Fenix) produced a sensational burst of speed to pip Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – QuickStep) and claim the second stage of the Vuelta a Espana.
The Belgian jumped off the wheel of Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) and held off the late surge of Jakobsen to take the stage into Burgos, after Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) was delivered into the finish well by teammate Matteo Trentin, but started his sprint just a few metres too soon. Matthews finished on the stage podium, after being outstripped by Philipsen and Jakobsen.
Full report here.
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You can watch La Vuelta live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+.. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries.
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