Team Sky sprinter Danny Van Poppel is on a roll at the Vuelta a Burgos in Spain, claiming his second stage win in three days.
Van Poppel was well clear of his rivals as he crossed the line in Villarcayo in the bunch sprint at the end of Thursday's 198-kilometre stage three.
The top three was a carbon copy of the opening stage, with the Dutchman finishing ahead of Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) in second and Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) in third.
Earlier in the stage, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) was one of those who had staged an escape over the second ascent of the Alto Retuerta climb 20km before the finish but was ultimately reeled in by the peloton to set up a bunch finish.
"I suffered a lot, especially on the last climb and I was one of the last guys at the back," Van Poppel said after the stage on www.teamsky.com. "The team did a great job. They helped me and waited for me, then when we got back to the front they pulled full gas to take back a strong break. The lead-out was perfect!"
Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) retains the overall race lead ahead of team-mates Dario Cataldo and Michele Scarponi after the Kazakh squad won the stage two team time trial. British rider Peter Kennaugh (Sky) is in 18th spot at seven seconds, with fellow Brit Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) in 28th at 10 seconds.
Friday's stage four offers up a hilly route from Aranda de Duero to Lerma, but is predicted to again finish with a bunch sprint. The race concludes on Saturday with the 'queen' climbing stage, ending with an ascent to the line at Lagunas de Neila.
Vuelta a Burgos 2016, stage three: Sedano to Villarcayo, 198km
1. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky in 4-35-47
2. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing
3. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep
4. Pieter Vanspeybroucke (Bel) Topsport-Vlaanderen
5. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
6. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep
7. Joe Joaquim Rojas (Esp) Movistar
8. Luke Mezgec (Slo) Orica-BikeExchange
9. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Giant-Alpecin
10. Angel Madrazo (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA all same time
General classification after stage three
1. Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana in 8-21-01
2. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at same time
3. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at same time
4. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep at 3 secs
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Movistar at 3 secs
6. David De La Cruz (Esp) Etixx-QuickStep at 3 secs
7. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx-QuickStep at 3 secs
8. Ruben Fernandez (Esp) Movistar at 3 secs
9. Gorka Izaguirre (Esp) Movistar at 3 secs
10. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep at 3 secs
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