Madrid, Aug 23 (IANS) French rider Alexandre Geniez won the third stage of the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) cycle race following a short but torturous finish on the final climb up to the Mirador de Ezaro in the northwest of Spain.
The 176-kilometre stage contained three climbs in its closing stages, but saved the toughest until last with the road to the Mirador having an average gradient of 14 percent and ramps where the riders climbed one meter for every five they advanced on Monday.
As such it was destined to produce time differences between the favourites for the race and a cat-and-mouse race as riders looked to conserve their strength for the final short but brutal climb to the finish, reports Xinhua.
Geniez was the last survivor of a breakaway group of seven riders who opened up a lead of five minutes over the main group, before being slowly but surely pegged back.
The FDJ rider was able to reach the finish with a 21 second advantage, while behind him the favourites battling it out with Tour de France winner Chris Froome, as usual ceding minutes at the original acceleration into the climb, before finding his rhythm and slowly but surely battling his way back to a group containing Alejandro Valverde, Ruben Fernandez from the Movistar Team.
Fernandez finished second on the stage to move into the overall leader’s jersey, while Nairo Quintana, who could have been expected to perform better on the stage ceded six seconds.
Alberto Contador’s options of winning the race suffered another setback. The Spaniard had already lost 52 seconds on the opening day team time trial and lost more ground on Monday, finishing 54 seconds after Geniez to now sit a minute and a half behind the leader and 80 seconds behind third placed Froome.
Tuesday presents another hilly stage between the towns of Betanzos and San Andres de Teixido with 164 kilometres.