The Dutch Champion sprinted to another podium finish at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
Stage 3 got underway from Orihuela, the hometown of Bernardo Ruiz, winner of the 1948 Vuelta a España and a total of nine Grand Tour stages, and headed to Torrevieja, the town that hosted the start of the season’s Grand Tour just a couple of months ago. With only a classified climb on the course, featuring some 70 kilometers from the finish, it quickly became obvious it was going to be another day for the peloton’s fast men, who send delegates at the front of the bunch in order to keep in check the gap of the seven escapees.
As a result, the gap wasn’t meaningful at any moment during the race and it began to plummet on Hondon de los Frailes, where the break splintered, leaving three men up the road, the others being easily overhauled by the pack led by the incredible Tim “El Tractor” Declercq. The final catch was made inside eight kilometers to go, but that didn’t stop a last-ditch effort from two riders, who tried to give the peloton the slip, only to be brought back under the flamme rouge.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step once again took charge on the finishing straight, helping Fabio Jakobsen navigate the hectic bunch and come near the front of the group. The Dutch Champion kicked within sight of the line and came again close to notching up his first victory of the year, going shoulder to shoulder all the way to the line with countryman Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), who beat him for a hair’s breadth.
James Knox safely concluded the stage in the pack and will start Saturday’s leg – which will be decisive for the general classification – in 14th place, a handful of seconds from the top 10 overall.
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