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Veteran American launches a fierce acceleration with 1km to go in the uphill finish of stage 3, overtakes Santaromita and takes a fantastic stage win and the leader's jersey

Photo: Sirotti






26.08.2013 @ 18:21 Posted by

41-year old Chris Horner is still going strong! Having missed most of the season due to a knee injury, the American made an impressive performance in his return to European racing when he won today's third stage of the Vuelta a Espana. His blistering attack inside the final kilometre not only brought him the win, it also put him into the red leader's jersey.


When Chris Horner missed most of the season due to a knee injury, many doubted that the American veteran would ever return to top-level racing. Today the American proved his critics wrong when he took a fabulous stage win in the third stage of the Vuelta a Espana.


In an uncontrollable finale where no team took responsibility for the chase, the American saw his window of opportunity when the peloton slowed down just as they passed the flamme rouge. The American launched a fierce attack and bridged across to lone leader Ivan Santaromita (BMC).


The Italian was unable to keep up with Horner and so the American continued on his own all the way to the line. Once again Valverde paid the price when his team was unable to keep everything together for a sprint finish as the Spaniard took an easy win ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in the battle for 2nd, 3 seconds behind Horner.


Small gaps opened up in the sprint and so race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) lost a further 3 seconds to some of his main rivals. He remains 2nd overall but is now 6 seconds behind today's stage winner who is the new leader of the race.


Horner will take that lead into tomorrow's fourth stage which is mostly flat. The final 2,1km are, however, all uphill and so it should be another day for the puncheurs. Starting at 15.00 you can follow the live coverage on


An easy start

The 184,8km stage offered the second consecutive uphill finish in the race as the race ended up the Mirador de Lobeira climb (4,2km, 4,8%). The first part of the stage was entirely flat as the riders zig-zagged their way along the Galician coast.


The puncheurs had all targeted this stage and so everybody knew that the early break was doomed. When Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel) attacked from the gun, he was allowed to go clear and was joined by Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural), Cyril Bessy (Cofidis) and Vicente Reynes (Lotto). A little later Luca Dodi (Lampre) bridged across and so the day's 5-rider break was formed.


Omega Pharma-Quick Step starts to chase

They were allowed to build up a 6-minute gap while Astana set a steady tempo on the front of the peloton. At the 24km mark, Omega Pharma-Quick Step showed that they intended to win the stage with Gianni Meersman and so the Belgian team joined the Kazakhs on the front.


Those two teams kept the gap stable at around 5 minutes for a long time and were later joined by BMC who had red-circled the stage for Philippe Gilbert. Moments later, the peloton turned into a crosswind section and the subsequent acceleration brought the gap down to just two minute.


Stop-and-go racing

The peloton once again slowed down when 70km still remained and so Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Andrey Zeits (Astana) and Martin Kohler (BMC) assumed their position on the front. Those three riders brought the gap down to just a minute and so decided to stop their effort.


When the gap had grown back up to 2.30, Van Keirsbulck was back on the front and he kept the gap stable for a long time. With 50km to go, the riders approached another crosswind section and this created a fierce battle for position.


A big crash

Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) strung things out and the nervousness made for a very chaotic run. Suddenly a big crash brought down one of the pre-stage favourites Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) but the Australian got back on his bike.


Of more concern was the fact that the peloton had now split into three big groups. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) were both in the 2nd group while Pieter Serry (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) and Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel) had all been caught out in the third group.


A fierce chase

Belkin and Saxo-Tinkoff joined forces in the second group while Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Ag2r, Euskaltel and FDJ chased hard on the front of the third one. In the main peloton, Movistar now took control, the Spanish team wanting to get their revenge over Belkin who rode Valverde out of the GC in the Tour.


Radioshack and Movistar kept the pace high for some time but when they turned back into a headwind. They slowed down. Astana was back in control and this allowed the Mollema-Majka group to rejoin the peloton.


Movistar attacks in the crosswinds

The riders had to cross a bridge in fierce crosswind and Movistar once again tried to split things up. Numerous riders fell off the pace but all the main contenders stayed attentive and so the peloton slowed down when they once again hit a headwind section.


Cannondale and Movistar now took control of the peloton and they kept a steady pace for some time. Due to the headwind, it was easy to stay in the peloton and so the riders had some time to recover.


Radioshack strings things out

When they approached the final climb, Markel Irizar (Radioshack) strung things out. Orica-GreenEdge were next in line with Sam Bewley while Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) led the peloton onto the climb.


Mitchell Docker (Orica-GreenEdge) did a fabulous job to set a hard tempo but the Australian finally finished his work, the peloton slowed down. Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil) sensed an opportunity and so he launched an attack.


Santaromita attacks

Ivan Santaromita set off in pursuit and the Italian champion overtook Flecha. Jose Herrada (Movistar) and Simone Stortoni (Lampre) formed a chase group that also passed Flecha who fell back into the peloton.


There was no big interest in the pace-setting but with 1,5km to go, NetApp and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took control. They brought back Herrada and Stortoni but moments later, the pace once again dropped.


That was when Horner launched his attack, bridging across to Santaromita and leaving the Italian behind. The American went on to not only win the stage but also take the red leader's jersey.



1. Chris Horner 4.30.18

2. Alejandro Valverde +0.03

3. Joaquim Rodriguez

4. Rigoberto Uran

5. Daniel Martin

6. Bauke Mollema

7. Michele Scarponi

8. Haimar Zubeldia +0.06

9. Nicolas Roche

10. Ivan Basso


General classification:

1. Chris Horner 9.37.40

2. Vincenzo Nibali +0.06

3. Nicolas Roche +0.14

4. Haimar Zubeldia +0.16

5. Robert Kiserlovski +0.23

6. Alejandro Valverde +0.24

7. Rigoberto Uran +0.25

8. Rafal Majka +0.38

9. Roman Kreuziger +0.45

10. Leopold König


Points classification:

1. Nicolas Roche 32

2. Alejandro Valverde 32

3. Chris Horner 28

4. Joaquim Rodriguez 25

5. Daniel Moreno 23


Mountains classification:

1. Nicolas Roche 10

2. Daniel Moreno 6

3. Domenico Pozzovivo 4

4. Chris Horner 3

5. Francisco Aramendia 3


Combination classification:

1. Nicolas Roche 5

2. Chris Horner 8

3. Alejandro Valverde 14

4. Daniel Moreno 18

5. Leopold König 27


Teams classification:

1. Radioshack 27.53.31

2. Saxo-Tinkoff +0.14

3. Belkin +1.13

4. NetApp-Endura +1.22

5. Movistar +1.25



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