MADRID — Defending champion Remco Evenepoel delivered a perfectly-timed sprint to take victory in stage three of the Vuelta Espana, beating Jonas Vingegaard and Juan Ayuso to the finish line as he also claimed the leader’s red jersey.
The third stage was a 158.5-kilometre ride from Suria to Arinsal which involved flat roads at the start before ending with two category one climbs.
Soudal-Quick-Step rider Evenepoel launched his effort some 300 metres from the line, leaving Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) in his wake to claim his first stage win of the 2023 edition.
Evenepoel’s celebrations were short-lived, as he crashed after crossing the finish line, leaving him bleeding from a cut on his eyebrow.
“I felt super good on the final climb with a long but very strong sprint so I’m super happy with this stage win,” Evenepoel said according to Reuters.
“I’m going to enjoy the red jersey. It’s a beautiful victory here in Andorra, at high altitude. It shows my preparation was good and that I’m ready for the next three weeks.”
There was a significant shake-up in the overall standings following stage three, with overnight leader Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost) relinquishing his advantage after being left behind by the peloton.
Evenepoel, Spaniard Enric Mas and Frenchman Lenny Martinez are now the top three riders in the rankings for the red leader’s jersey, called “La Roja”, with Vingegaard in fourth.
Earlier, there were several breakaways in the flatter first half of the stage, but the peloton was able to swallow them up on the final climb.
The most notable of the breakaways was an 11-man group led by Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and Lennard Kaemna (Bora-Hansgrohe)
Kaemna and Caruso put in a valiant effort as they dropped the nine other riders on the first of the two climbs, before themselves being reeled in on the final slope.