Remco Evenepoel beats Jonas Vingegaard to win Vuelta a España stage three

The defending champion crashed after he crossed the line and cut open his face

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Defending champion Remco Evenepoel won stage three of the Vuelta a España in Andorra and in doing so took the race lead.

The Soudal Quick-Step rider attacked in the final 300m of the finishing climb to Arinsal, and though Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) was quick to respond to his attack, the Belgian held off the challenge of the Dane to take the victory by one second and collect six bonus seconds

Shortly after crossing the line, however, Evenepoel crashed into the area where soigneurs and photographers were stationed and cut open his face. He didn't appear to have sustained any injuries.

Vingegaard held on for second, with UAE-Team Emirates' Juan Ayuso taking third place. Other GC favourites including Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Enric Mas (Movistar) and João Almeida (UAE-Team Emirates) were all in the front group on the same time, but Ineos Grenadiers' GC duo of Geraint Thomas and Thymen Arensman both ceded 47 and 21 seconds, respectively.

With Evenepoel's team having performed better than their rivals in Saturday's team time trial, he now has a lead over Mas of five seconds, with Groupama-FDJ's Lenny Martinez third in 11 seconds. Vingegaard is fourth, 31 seconds in arrears. Overnight race leader Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost) could not hold onto the red jersey for more than one day.

How it happened

Despite predictions of heavy rain for the third consecutive day, the sun was shining at the start in Súria, and after 40km were covered of the 159km, a breakaway of 11 formed.

Bahrain-Victorious were present through Damiano Caruso and Jasha Sütterlin, while Lennard Kämna and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier were representing Bora-hansgrohe and Lidl-Trek, respectively. Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Eduardo Sepúlveda (Lotto-Dstny), Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën), Rune Herregodts (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Jon Barrenetxea (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA), Mathis Le Berre (Arkéa-Samsic) and José Manuel Díaz (Burgos-BH) completed the break.

The peloton headed due north through the mid-Pyrenees and into Andorra, with Jumbo-Visma, Soudal Quick-Step and DSM-Firmenich all taking it in turns to man the peloton.

When they entered Andorra, the sun continued to shine but the roads were wet from recent rain. On the climb of the Coll d'Ordino, the remnants of the breakaway - Kämna, Caruso, Sepúlveda and Ghebreigzabhier - had a lead of two minutes on the peloton.

At the base of the finishing climb up to the snow-topped ski station of Arinsal, Kämna and Caruso had 90 seconds on the peloton, and they maintained that lead even as the harshest gradients started to bite. Meanwhile, the man at the top of the standings at the beginning of the day, Piccolo, was more than two minutes behind.

With five kilometres to go, Jay Vine of UAE-Team Emirates had his teammate  Ayuso on his wheel at the front of the peloton, with Vingegaard and Evenepoel just behind.  Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers was struggling to hold on at the back of a select group of GC riders. Up front, Kämna dropped Caruso with two kilometres left to ride, but the group of favourites were closing in.

Ayuso was the first to attack, and jumping on his wheel were the Jumbo-Visma three: Vingegaard, Roglič and Sepp Kuss. The latter then went alone and was followed by UAE-Team Emirates' own super-domestique, Marc Soler.

The pair caught Kämna, and the small group of favourites, numbering around 15, then rode up the finish as one before Evenepoel made his decisive move with 300m to go.

Results Vuelta a España stage three: Súria > Arinsal, 159km

1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step, in 4.15-39
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 1s
3. Juan Ayuso (Esp) UAE-Team Emirates
4. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
5. Marc Soler (Esp) UAE-Team Emirates
6. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar
7. Lenny Martinez (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
8. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel) Bora-hansgrohe
9. João Almeida (Por) UAE-Team Emirates
10. Aleksandr Vlasov Bora-hansgrohe, all at same time

General classification after stage three

1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step, in 8.43-11
2. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 5s
3. Lenny Martinez (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 11s
4. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 31s
5. Aleksandr Vlasov Bora-hansgrohe, at 33s
6. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel) Bora-hansgrohe, at same time
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM-Firmenich, at 35s
8. Santiago Buitrago (Col) Bahrain-Victorious, at 36s
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 37s
10. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at same time.

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