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“The pace from the bottom of Potrero was already high, with plenty of attacks; some by ourselves, then Nibali, another one by Rodolfo Torres - yet none of them opened a real gap."

Photo: Movistar Team

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ALEXIS VUILLERMOZ

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ANDRÉ FERNANDO MARTINS CARDOSO

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BORIS VALLÉE

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CHRIS ANKER SØRENSEN

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DANIEL MORENO

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DAYER QUINTANA

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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DRAPAC PORSCHE CYCLING

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EF EDUCATION FIRST

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EDUARDO SEPULVEDA

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FERNANDO GAVIRIA

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JULIEN LOUBET

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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PAWEL POLJANSKI

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PETER KONING

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PETER SAGAN

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RAFAL MAJKA

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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21.01.2016 @ 16:07 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Peter Koning (Drapac) created a massive surprise when he completed a fantastic solo ride to win stage 3 of the Tour de San Luis. After joining a 4-rider breakaway, he dropped his companions with 40km to go and managed to hold off a small 15-rider group that was formed on the final climb. Race leader Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) beat Eric Marcotte (Holowesko) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff9 in the sprint for second but it was not enough to defend his lead as Koning moves into the green leader’s jersey with a 6-second advantage.

 

We have gathered a few reactions.

 

Koning: I won’t be able to defend the jersey

Peter Koning, the Dutch 2012 National Time Trial Champion, used his power skills in a day long breakaway to take a sensational victory in stage 3 at Tour de San Luis. Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-Quickstep) led the chase group in, narrowly taking Travis McCabe (Holowesko Citadel).

 

Koning broke away early in the 131km race with Elìas Tello (Chile), Gonzalo Najar (SEP San Juan) and Emmanuel Guevara (San Luis Team). The foursome built their lead out to 6 minutes by 85km. Just under 40km to go, Koning attacked, leaving his three companions behind and headed up the road for what would be race winning move.

 

“It was the plan to do something today and go in the break. I was comfortable as we rode the stage and I knew I had to go before the climb, so I pushed away from the break before the climb. I held solid up the climb and then really attacked the descent. I knew I if they caught me, I would need to attack again so I planned accordingly. But I held them away and didnt need that second attack.,” Koning said.

 

“I’m a time trial guy so I needed to go early, and I’m not a sprinter so I always want to go alone and try to get as much time as possible to get away quick. As soon as the last climb started I was a few minutes in front, like three minutes 45. I just tried to keep a solid tempo, and I knew that if I hit the top of the climb with one minute that I had a good chance to win. I went up the climb with a solid pace and I got to the top two minutes in front, and I knew that I could win the stage.

 

"I was born in the Netherlands 25 years ago and I turned pro last year with Drapac so I have not had the opportunity to do many races in Europe. I am a time triallist, a worker, a long-distance rider and to win I have to attack from a distance. I like to go on the attack and this time it went well because I anticipated the big boys like Sagan and I'm really happy.

 

“I come from two months of work in the heat in Australia, and the results are evident: on the final climb I began to understand that if I rode well, I could even win.”

 

Koning, known for his keen talent in the time trial and full throttle breakaway style showed his strong form and all-in attitude.

 

“I like to go and ride alone. I like to ride full gas, time trial and today I got to do the last 40km as a time trial. I am very happy to get the win for the team today.

 

“I’m a TT guy so this is my specialism, and I hope to get some good results in the time trial. After that I am a hard worker, and I do the lead-out for Wouter Wippert. We’ve got a new sprinter now so we are working hard for him. I am a strong guy and that’s what I do and sometimes I get the chance to be in the break, and that is what I did today.

 

“I always try to go into the breakaway to win. If you get the win, it is really special because I don’t get too many chances to win. I’m really happy to take the win.”

 

Koning takes over the General Classification lead and will wear the leaders jersey as the riders take on Stage 4. The 140km course starts out rolling flat and the peaks with 11km to go for a steep hill top finish.

 

“I am excited to be leading the GC and the team has been great all week. We are all happy and enjoying this event so tomorrow we start in the leaders jersey and we will try to defend it,” Koning added.

 

“I’m not a climber so it will be really hard to keep the jersey tomorrow. I expect tomorrow that the boys like [Nairo] Quintana to take a couple of minutes on me so I will really enjoy the jersey now and I will enjoy it tomorrow, but after tomorrow it will belong to someone else.”

 

Gaviria: I could not do more than this

On a day in which the break stayed at the front until the end, Fernando Gaviria won once again the group sprint.

 

Long before the climb, Koning attacked the other three and went solo, crossing first the second-category ascent, with enough seconds in hand to get victorious at the finish line in La Punta, where he also became the new leader of the general classification. Behind him, Fernando Gaviria led the chase and despite this effort, he still managed to sprint to second, ahead of Travis McCabe (Holowesko-Citadel) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).

 

In the overall standings, the 21-year-old Colombian, winner in Villa Mercedes on Tuesday, is now just six seconds adrift, while he continues to lead the U23 ranking. In the same group with Gaviria arrived at the finish also Maximiliano Richeze and Rodrigo Contreras, the Colombian being now well placed ahead of tomorrow’s stage.

 

"Today I mainly kept an eye on Sagan because I knew that he would attack,” Gaviria said. “I decided not to follow Koning, he took off and no one really wanted to chase, so he ended up staying away. The stage win was impossible, but I'm pleased with my effort. I could not really give more. Tomorrow will be a day of training for me. At Etixx, we will bet on Contreras.”

 

Gaviria’s podium came as new proof of Etixx – Quick-Step’s consistency in the South American event, a thing which made sport director Davide Bramati happy at the finish: “We did a good race today, and together with the other teams we controlled the stage, our goal being to see how Fernando and Rodrigo will cope with the last climb. Koning was really strong and was able to keep a gap, despite the peloton climbing Potrero at high speed. We are satisfied with our results and that our work netted us a second place of Fernando at the finish. Now, we’re ready to find out tomorrow how far can Rodrigo go in this race”.

 

Sagan misses out, Majka loses time

Tinkoff worked hard with all its riders to bring back the solo escapee of the stage, Peter Koning, always with an eye on the other teams that didn't prove as collaborative. The Dutch rider took stage victory, while Peter Sagan claimed fourth place, finishing in the first group of 25 riders.

 

Stage three of the Tour de San Luis, saw the peloton ride 131km from Potrero de Los Funes to La Punta, with the last second-category climb, the Mirador del Portero, proving to be the decisive one.

 

"Today Koning was very good", commented sport director Patxi Vila, "but it is also true that there was less collaboration than I expected from the other teams. We already put Nikolay Trusov to pull into the 40th km, and he did a great job. The breakaway had in fact a lead of around 4-5 minutes, then also Bodnar pulled to try to close the gap before the last climb. However we couldn’t even pull too much considering that Peter Sagan is not a climber, and we didn’t have to be the only ones to take full responsibility for the chase."

 

"During the climb, Hansen and Poljanski also gave their contribution to try to find the best possible pace for Sagan and get closer to the escapee. However, in the end we scored a good fourth place, and the good news is that even during the climb, Sagan was able to stay together with the climbers, a sign that the preparation is going in the right direction", concluded Vila.


"Today, on the last climb", said Pawel Poljanski, "our goal was to stay in front with Sagan and Majka. Unfortunately, Rafal had a puncture, so I waited for him, but we were left a bit behind because the riders in the front were going very fast. Despite these drawbacks, there are still two summit finishes and we will give our best. It's still January and the important thing is that the condition of the team keeps improving gradually. The most important races for us are still far away and there is time to improve.”

 

Tour de San Luis 140km-long stage 4 from Terrazas del Portezuelo to Cerro El Amago features a 10.5km final climb at El Amago, at 1,710 m. The climb has an average gradient of 7.2% with a peak of 11.5% which could make a difference in the overall classification.

 

"In tomorrow’s stage instead", commented Vila, "with a summit finish, the protagonists will be the climbers and so will be Rafal Majka, who today was not lucky because he had to slow down due to a mechanical failure during the climb”.

 

"But we will see tomorrow how fit and in what shape our opponents are."

 

Confidence boost for Vuillermoz

Ag2r captain Alexis Vuillermoz has suffered in the heat in the first stages but today he showed good form by finishing sixth.

 

“I am rather happy with my day,” he wrote on Facebook. “I could crest the summit of the final climb within the top 10. Then a lot of small groups returned on the descent but the main thing was to be able to get confidence on the climb. I finished 6th and was again helped by my teammates throughout the day.”

 

Quintana: It was impossible to split the field

Dutchman Peter Koning (DPC) took an unexpected lead in the 10th Tour de San Luis after taking a long breakaway to fruition in La Punta, with 1'37" over a small group including all main favourites.

 

Stage three, a short 130km, had a decisive point in the Mirador del Potrero (Cat-2), a 5km ascent with gentle slopes - no more than 7% at sections - which the lone escapee managed well to leave behind a decimated peloton ofonly about twenty riders.

 

Three of the Movistar Team riders - Dani Moreno, 8th across the line; Dayer Quintana, 9th; and Nairo Quintana, 14th - resisted the chasing pace from the Astana and Tinkoff squads, the latter even responding to a move from Vincenzo Nibali (AST), and completed the descent safely to conserve places five, six and seven overall, 30" behind Koning and 8" after Rodrigo Contreras (EQS), 4th in the GC and first of the climbers who will aspire to the green leader's jersey in Thursday's first mountain showdown.

 

In turn, Marc Soler crossed the line 2'12" in arrears, now just off the GC top-ten as things will surely change for many at the Cerro El Amago. The 11km ascent, 7% average, will bring the 140km stage four to a close.

 

"We tried to break the bunch apart, but we ultimately came pretty much all together,” Quintana said. “The pace from the bottom of Potrero was already high, with plenty of attacks; some by ourselves, then Nibali, another one by Rodolfo Torres - yet none of them opened a real gap, and sprinters like Gaviria and Sagan made it to the summit in the front group, so our only chance was getting through the descent without any troubles.

 

“Tomorrow's stage will be quite different, really another story. There will surely be some gaps, just like every year. Heat will play a massive role, it will be hard for all of us - let's hope none of the team are affected in a bad way by it."

 

Nibali: I had a good feeling

"I'm happy, it was the first ascent of the season and I was easily with the first. I had a good feeling," Vincenzo Nibali saud after stage three Tour de San Luis.

 

The Italian champion, together with his teammate Miguel Angel Lopez, arrived with the first group of 25 riders at the finish line of La Punta / El Cabildo. Peter Koning won the stage and took the lead.

 

In the overall standings, Lopez and Nibali are ninth and tenth respectively, with a gap of 39 seconds to Koning.

 

"It 'been a good day,” commented  sports director Alexandr Shefer. “The team has responded well to the first more challenging test. Too bad with the crashes for Valerio Agnoli, Michele Scarponi and Lopez, fortunately without consequences.”

 

Cardoso and Talansky stay in contention

Cannondale had two riders in the group of favourites, Andre Cardoso and Andrew Talansky.

 

“It was another too hot stage. It’s the first race and I am already cooked,” Cardoso wrote on Facebook. “It was a short stage with a demanding climb 11km from the finish. Little by little I will learn more about my physical condition and I am glad. Now we have the first summit finish.”

 

Crash takes Sepulveda out of contention

Fortuneo-Vital Concept captain Eduardo Sepulveda had waited impatiently for the first climb. He failed to make it into the chase group after he went down in a crash.  Chris-Anker Sørensen and Boris Vallee were were involved in the same incident, fortunately without suffering any major injuries. But Sepulveda lost almost a minute.

 

Hence, Julien Loubet was the only rider from the French team in the group of favorites, confirming the good showings since arriving in Argentina. He even finished in 7th place.

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