Jakob Fuglsang was gifted a second stage win and an opportunity to consolidate his overall lead on stage three of the Ruta del Sol.
The Dane was in third wheel on the approach to the finishing straight when the two riders in front of him, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-McLaren) and Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), misread a sharp corner and went wide, allowing Fuglsang through to sprint for the line.
The Astana rider finished ahead of Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) on the line with UAE Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty in third. Teuns and Haig lost eight seconds as they finished sixth and seventh.
Fuglsang now increases his lead in the general classification to 14 seconds over Bahrain-McLaren’s Mikel Landa, with two stages remaining.
Stage four features the punishing category one Alto del Purche climb 20km from the line, while the final stage five time trial will crown the overall winner.
How it happened
The lumpy parcours offered up two first category and two second category climbs over the lumpy 176.9km course, before a final 1.3km kick up to the line, averaging 8.7 per cent.
Unfortunately a loss of television pictures, apparently partly due to military planes being in the area, meant a lot of the action went unseen for everyone who wasn’t at the roadside between Jáen and Ubeda.
However, when footage began to flicker into life with around 50km to go, the race was still finely poised.
Lennard Hofstede (Jumbo-Visma), Andrey Zeits (Mitchelton-Scott), Enric Mas (Movistar), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren), Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale), Loïc Vliegen (Circus – Wanty Gobert), Mikel Bizkarra (Fundación-Orbea), Floris De Tier, Jimmy Janssens and Louis Vervaeke (all Alpecin-Fenix) were out in front as a potentially formidable breakaway offering, holding a gap of two minutes.
On the final category two climb of Puerto de Baeza, Mas splintered the break with 18 km to go, leaving a six-man group containing all three Alpecin-Fenix riders, which meant their companions were not overly keen to contribute to the workload.
As the escapees struggled to work together, further riders began to drop off and also come back into the fold, eventually leaving a five-man front group of Dillier, Mas, Caruso, De Tier and Bizkarra up front.
With 8.5km to go, the gap was still at 1-15 with just the final ramp up to the finish and the quintet starting to collaborate more effectively, which pushed the peloton to start breaking apart behind as they took up the chase.
As the road kicked up in the final sharp incline, suddenly it was only Mas left out front with the GC favourites right behind the Spaniard.
2.5km from the finish line, the Movistar man was caught with his compatriot Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) leading the group past him.
His former Movistar team-mate Marc Soler then took over on the front, as Fuglsang came up to third wheel, with eight riders left in the front group.
Jack Haig then put in an attack, with Fuglsang following and Dylan Teuns quick onto his wheel. With some smart cornering through the narrow streets, Teuns jumped up to first wheel and looked to be about to lead the race onto the finishing straight.
However, the sharp corner just before spelled disaster for the Belgian. He overshot the corner, going very wide, with Haig careering off the course behind him, allowing Fuglsang to power on through and sprint over the line first.
Teuns’ team-mate Pello Bilbao pushed Fuglsang all the way and finished second with UAE Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty in third.
Teuns finished in sixth, eight seconds down, just ahead of Haig in seventh.
Ruta del Sol 2020, stage three: Jáen to Ubeda (176.9km)
1. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, in 4-33-25
2. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, at same time
3. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates, at one second
4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana, at 4s
5. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 6s
6. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren, at 8s
7. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
8. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, both at same time
9. Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 13s
10. Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Circus – Wanty Gobert, at 26s
General classification after stage three
1. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, in 14-22-26
2. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, at 14 seconds
3. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, at 30s
4. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren, at 31s
5. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana, at 34s
6. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 35s
7. Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-23
8. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 1-27
9. Rubén Fernández (Esp) Funación-Orbea, at 1-36
10. Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at same time