Dylan Groenewegen once again asserted his dominance in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2020, taking a second stage victory on day three.
The Dutchman played a tactical game in the dash for the line, utilising rival lead-outs before launching his sprint and getting the better of his compatriot Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
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Victory on stage three in Torrevieja is Groenewegen’s second of the race after he triumphed in Jumbo-Visma colours on the opening day.
How it happened
The stage was set for a sprint on day three of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, at the climax of a 174.6km run from Orihuela to Torrevieja.
But before the fastmen could unleash their power, they would have to tackle a sharp 3km-long, 8.3 per cent average climb half way through the stage, cresting 102km into the day.
After reaching the peak of the category two climb, it was downhill back to sea level for the fast and flat run to the line and a technical final few kilometres before a clear run to the line inside the final kilometre.
Early in the stage, a six-rider breakaway made it clear of the bunch and set themselves up for a long and testing day in the saddle on the mostly flat terrain.
The break, consisting of Daniel Viegas (Kometa-Xstra), Héctor Sáez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Julen Irizar (Fundación-Orbea), Manuel Peñalver (Burgos-BH), Petr Rikunov (Gazprom-RusVelo), and Iván Moreno (Equipo Kern Pharma), built their advantage up to almost three minutes in the opening phase, the gap only narrowing slightly as the race came into the final 100km.
As the break hit the only major climb of the day, the cohesion fell away and just three riders were left at the head of the race, Irizar, Rikunov and Penalver cresting together.
The leading trio faced a lonely road in front of them as they sped towards the coast, the gap falling to under one minute with just over a 20km to race.
Finally with 9km left to the line the peloton caught the escapees, as Deceuninck – Quick-Step, CCC Team and Mitchelton-Scott all lined out at the head of the bunch.
Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Ineos) tried his luck with around 3km left to race and made a break for it, taking advantage of the countless roundabouts and narrow roads on the run in. His move was followed by an Ag2r La Mondiale rider but the pair were caught at the 2km marker.
Hitting the final straight, Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) launched an early sprint in the hopes of catching his opponents off guard, but the tactic failed as Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-McLaren) was next to launch his kick.
It was a valiant effort from the Slovenian, but Groenewegen was waiting in the wings and fired at the perfect moment with Jakobsen on his wheel.
The Quick-Step man tried to come off Groenewegen’s wheel and make it round, but it was Groenewegen who took the win, with Jakobsen second and Mohorič holding on for third.
Owing to a quirk of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, which does not have time bonuses at the finish line, Jack Haig moves into the race lead after finishing ahead of Pogačar in the sprint.
The pair started the day on the same time after finishing together on stage two, won by Pogačar.
Haig leads after finishing 12th on stage three, while Pogačar was not far behind in 17th.
There are now seven riders on the same time at the top of the same standings, including Haig, Pogačar, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos).
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2020, stage three: Orihuela to Torrevieja (174.6km)
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-54-16
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain-McLaren
4. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-Up Nation
5. Jon Aberasturi (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
7. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team
9. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation
10. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, in 13-15-25
2. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
3. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar
4. Rubén Fernández (Esp) Fundación-Orbea
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren
6. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana
7. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Ineos, all at same time
8. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain-McLaren, at 2s
9. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 5s
10. Greg van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team, at same time