La Vuelta 3: BLING!

Start from the aircrafr carrier Juan Carlos under an all blue sky. Some 3th cat. climbs on the menu and a break-away: Cousin, Fumeaux, Más Bonet, Van Rensburg and Wyss. They get a good gap but in peloton ORICA-GE controls. 
70 km to go, Más Bonet has gone solo on a climb, the four other escapees still in between. Born in 1989, this year Más Bone finished 6 in  Tour de Azerbaidjan. More here: http://www.cqranking.com/men/asp/gen/rider_palm.asp?riderid=12387&year=2014&all=0&current=0 … He's pedaling well but it's a very long way to the finish, slightly uphill. It's hot - about 37 degrees - bald rocky mountains, white and green of stubborn plants. Más Bonet is solo on the last climb, 50 km to go, ORICA-GE chasing through the wide desolation and small white towns, white small houses gathered on a one main street. Sweating. Swearing: a DOG just in the midle of the road,  it runs away last minute when the peloton arrives!
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Pic by Antoine Plouvin
25 km to go Más Bonet get caught. Large straight roads. A crash and two Movistar riders down - Malori and Castroviejo.
Atypical sprint, speed and spur. Some nasty turns, a bridge. Arcos de la Frontera atop the last climb 6% average. 13 km to go Adam Hansen attacks: determined, a red arrow. But the peloton reacts: Hansen is caught 5km to go. 
Embedded image permalinkNow Caruso attacks, he seems unstoppable. ORICA-GE, Team Sky, Movistar... fighting back and finally... BLING! Michael Matthew gets out and takes it: stage and jersey. Immense.

1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge 5:12:14  
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp  
3 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha  
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
5 Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
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Pic by Antoine Plouvin
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team  
7 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr
9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha  
10 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge 9:27:53
2 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:04
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:11
4 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:15  
5 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:00:17  
6 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica Greenedge  
7 George Bennett (NZl) Cannondale 0:00:20  
8 Julian David Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing
9 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Trek Factory Racing  
10 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:22

ORICA-GE Michael Matthews:
“Nothing was planned but fortune smiled on me again. I’ve already lived a dream this season by wearing the maglia rosa for six days at the Giro and now that dream is continuing today at the Vuelta. I hope to keep the red jersey for as long as possible.”
"Will be a day to remember 200k on the front from the boys what a honour to finish it for such an amazing team @ORICA_GreenEDGE speechless"

Garmin-Sharp Dan Martin:
“I saw the finish on Friday and I immediately had a good feeling but Bling [Matthews] was just too fast in the end. I didn’t run out of legs, he was just quicker.
I went at 500 metres to go but Chris Froome accelerated at the same moment so I got on his wheel. Then with 300 metres to go, I attacked. I didn’t know that Matthews was on my wheel but at that point I was committed so I just had to go to the line. If it was anyone other than Matthews on my wheel I would have won, but he is really very fast.
It’s a finish that was good for me as puncheur. I can be happy with how I rode but to finish second again is a bit disappointing. Still, I’ve shown that I’m riding well and I’m content for what’s to come.
I’ve done the best I can to be in shape and I’m going to do the best I possibly can but it depends on how good the other guys are. If the other guys are better than me, they’ll beat me, it’s as simple as that. I don’t think you can make goals until you know how good the other guys are.
I’m better, much better [than before the Giro] I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a Grand Tour with these sensations. I seemed to be getting better the whole of the last week.”

Team Katusha 
Purito Rodriguez:
"Though the final of the race did not suit us perfectly, our team took the race in hand. Caruso was strong and it’s a pity that he just missed the win. Maybe I could have tried something but that’s hard to say afterwards. We are happy with what we showed today. The team did very well."

Giampaolo Caruso: 
"The initial plan was that Kolobnev and I would pull the last 1,5 kilometer for Dani and Purito, but when I accelerated I looked back and saw the gap. Of course at that point I gave my all to try for the win. It’s a pity that I missed by less than 100 meters, but I can be happy about my condition. What we saw today is hopeful for the upcoming stages with uphill finishes."

OPQS DS Rik Van Slycke:
"On a super hot day like today it's important to drink a lot, and ofte. To give an idea of the high temperature and its effects, we used four fridges full of bidons for a total of almost 220 bottles for our riders. We also had two masseurs on the last climb with 20 more bottles. Hydration is important not only for the race, but also recovery as we have to think about tomorrow and the next days. To further accelerate recovery, we had our ice baths at the finish. They all use it with great pleasure after a day like today.
Rigoberto Uran: "Today the team did a good job. Our goal was to be there with the top guys in the final. We took the lead at 5 kilometers to go and they led me perfectly to the finish line. On a hot stage with a lot going on in the last kilometers, it was important to stay in front and not lose seconds. We did it, so this was a perfectly good day that we can look at over our shoulders."

BMC Cadel Evans:
"I did not arrive well-positioned into the bottom of the climb, but what I had in my legs I managed to get on the road. I think in a couple of days, I will start feeling better as some of the sprinter guys get tired and I will be able to aim higher. I am going OK, but have quite a bit of room for improvement. So we will see in the next few days."

Team Belkin
Wilco Kelderman:
"I’m very happy, but I didn’t expect this. It was a very heavy stage today. With 1.5-kilometres to go there was a very steep section. From that point on, it was a long sprint to the finish line. Lactate was everywhere.”
Paul Martens
“I really, really suffered in the final. After I pulled the sprint for our overall men, I kept going. I did not explode and I came away with fifth place.” 
Robert Gesink
“I drunk around twenty bottles, but honestly I didn’t really suffer from the heat. I felt very well and I’m very satisfied with this result, especially when you look at the riders who are here.”

Team Sky DS Dario Cioni:
"It was a tough day and the idea was to be at the front for the final. It didn't go 100 per cent to plan but Chris was still well positioned going into the final climb. That was the main goal. He then showed that he's got the legs with a good finish.
Heat was a really big factor out there. The whole stage it was incredibly warm. The peloton were also climbing quite a bit which made it even more tough. Tomorrow it's another quite technical finish. The riders will get a look beforehand on the circuit but it could still throw up an interesting result."


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