Bahrain-Merida rider Ramunas Navardauskus takes the team's first ever victory, as he wins the time trial stage in the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina

Bahrain-Merida‘s Ramunas Navardauskus has moved into the overall lead at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina after winning the 11.9-kilometre individual time trial on stage three.

The three-time former Lithuanian national time trial champion produced an excellent performance on the flat course around San Juan, claiming Bahrain-Merida’s first ever victory.

Navardauskus won the stage by a slender three seconds over Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), with Mollema’s team-mate Matthias Brändle finishing third only a fraction of a second ahead of Frenchman Remi Cavagna, riding in his first professional race.

Bauke Mollema placed second in the time trial, and is now second overall

Previous overall leader Elia Viviani, riding for the Italian national team, was never expected to hold onto the leader’s jersey, finishing 35 seconds down in 14th place.

Viviani finished in the same time as Navardauskus’s team-mate and pre-race favourite Vincenzo Nibali, who will now have to perform well on the summit finish on stage five to overcome Bauke Mollema, not to mention highly motivated local riders, for the overall title.

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Riders used their regular road bikes – some equipped with clip-on tri bars and rear disc wheels – as the rules stipulated that specialist time trial bikes could not be used. However, riders could still benefit from using aero helmets and TT skinsuits.

Thursday’s stage four is another flat one, starting and finishing in San Martin, before the race is likely to be decided on the summit finish to Alto Colorado on stage five.

Ramunas Navardauskas in the leader’s jersey after stage three of the 2017 Vuelta de San Juan

Results

Vuelta a San Juan 2017, stage three: San Juan to San Juan, 11.9km ITT
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Bahrain-Merida, in 14-03
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 3 secs
3. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, at 7 secs
4. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 7 secs
5. Walter Vargas (Col) Medellin-Inder, at 17 secs
6. Sebastian Trillini (Arg) Italomat-dogo, at 19 secs
7. Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Medellin-Inder, at 19 secs
8. Laureano Rosas (Arg) Argentina, at 21 secs
9. Ricardo Escuela (Arg) Agrupacion Virgen De Fatima, at 32 secs
10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida, at 32 secs
Other
13. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 35 secs
14. Elia Viviani (Ita) Italy, at 35 secs

General classification after stage three
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Bahrain-Merida, in 6-22-27
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 3 secs
3. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, at 7 secs
4. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 7 secs
5. Sebastian Trillini (Arg) Italomat-dogo, at 19 secs
6. Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Medellin-Inder, at 19 secs
7. Laureano Rosas (Arg) Argentina, at 21 secs
8. Elia Viviani (Ita) Italy, at 35 secs
9. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 29 secs
10. Ricardo Escuela (Arg) Agrupacion Virgen De Fatima, at 32 secs