Jonas Vingegaard triumphs on stage three of Itzulia Basque Country to return to winning ways

Low-speed incident takes Richard Carapaz and Sergio Higuita out of contention on vertiginous finish

Jonas Vingegaard wins stage three of Itzulia Basque Country
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jonas Vingegaard ground his way up an incredibly steep climb to take victory on stage three of Itzulia Basque Country, returning to winning ways after suffering defeat at Paris-Nice.

The Jumbo-Visma rider picked his moment to attack up the climb to Amasa-Villabona, powering his way to his first win since February, putting him in control of the general classification.

Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) finished second to move up to second on GC, while Enric Mas (Movistar) finished just behind.

There was an odd situation in the vertiginous final 500m, where Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) appeared to ride into a pair of Shimano neutral service bikes on the road side, taking himself and Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) out of contention.

The slow-motion sprint came at the end of an extremely climb-heavy day, with 2,799 metres tackled across the 162.8km course, including four uncategorised but seriously steep walls inside the final 20km.

James Knox (Soudal Quick-Step) and Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) entered the final climb out front, but were quickly swallowed up by a reduced peloton, which gave Vingegaard the opportunity to attack near the end.

The Dane now has a five second advantage over Landa on GC, which could be vitally important in a race which often finishes with tight gaps overall.

He said post-finish that he would keep "fighting" until the end of the race, and paid tribute to his teammates.

"I'm very happy to take the win today, to pay off all the hard work that my teammates have done," the  Not just today, but in the last two days. It's nice to take a win here, it's a big race here, one of my favourites. 

"It was very tough, not only the last climb, but every climb almost. It was a hard day in general and I think I have to thank my teammates a lot, they worked their asses off.

"I will take it day by day for now, but hopefully I can stay in the jersey and I'll fight every day I can. Even if I lose the jersey I will keep fighting."

How it happened

The third stage of Itzulia Basque Country was talked up as the "wall" stage, with six category three climbs along its 162.8km route, and many more tough climbs where points would not be on offer.

The action kicked off practically as soon as the peloton left Errenteria, with Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Georg Zimmerman (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) and Simon Geschke (Cofidis) establishing a small gap, with 148km to go.

This trio was soon inflated by three Frenchman joining them: Rémi Cavagna (Soudal Quick-Step), Thibault Guernalec (Arkéa Samsic) and Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R Citroën).

On the Meaga, the first categorised climb of the day, Latour claimed the points, before Cavagna did the same on Andazarrate. While the breakaway powered on, Jumbo-Visma pulled in the peloton, in the knowledge that the finish would suit their leader, Jonas Vingegaard.

On Alkiza, Latour took the king of the mountains sprint ahead of Cavagna, but with 47km to go the Frenchman was dropped from the front of the break, with Zimmerman taking the spoils atop Altzo.

He repeated this feat on the Orendain, which was the final throw of the dice for a breakaway that was out in front for 100km, as they were caught with 25km to go.

With the race all back together, it was another trio's time to attack, with Laurens Huys (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost) all attempting to gap those behind them. Mollema was first over the top of the next time up the Altzo, taking the points.

Chaves was the last rider to survive from this move, with the Colombian champion looking good on the steep final climbs. The next attacks from the peloton were of James Knox (Soudal Quick-Step) and Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo), with the pair joining Chaves out in front.

The final kilometre was practically all uphill, and while Knox had approximately 13 seconds going in, it never looked like lasting. As a result, Knox and then López were caught by the thinned out bunch.

In the last 500m, Lopez attempted to keep moving up the very steep finalé, which caused Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) to unclip, which then took out Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost).

It did not affect the overall result, however, with Vingegaard clipping off the front and grinding to the finish. Behind him, Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) pipped Enric Mas (Movistar) to second place.

Vingegaard takes the race lead, with Alex Aranburu (Movistar) in the points jersey, Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) in control of the youth jersey by two seconds, and Jon Barrenetxea (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) in the lead of the KOM competition.

Itzulia Basque Country 2023, stage three (162.8km) results

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, in 3-51-58
2. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 2s
3. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at same time
4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Cofidis, at 8s
5. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at same time
6. Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 10s
7. Felix Gall (Aut) AG2R Citroën, at 12s
8. Andrea Bagiolo (Ita) Soudal Quick-Step, at 13s
9. Simon Yates (GBr) Jayco AlUla
10. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Movistar, both at same time

General classification after stage three

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, in 12-46-43
2. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 5s
3. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 16s
4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Cofidis, at 20s
5. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 21s
6. Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 22s
7. Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Jayco AlUla, at 23s
8. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Movistar, at 25s
9. Andrea Bagiolo (Ita) Soudal Quick-Step, at 25s
10. Simon Yates (GBr) Jayco AlUla, at same time

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.