Swift bags fourth in Vitoria
The Australian (Orica GreenEdge) claimed the win while Kevin Reza (Europcar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma Quick Step) finished strongly to round out the podium.
Also in touch on a fast and difficult finale was Mikel ray-ban Nie ray-ban ve, who maintained his general classification charge by finishing in the main bunch.
Remaining 36 seconds behind the yellow jersey of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo), Nieve dropped a place to eighth on account of stage placings, but remains firmly in play ahead of a return to the major climbs on Thursday.
Pete Kennaugh spent long stretches riding on the front during the stage, while Josh Edmondson and more Team Sky jerseys joined in the chase as the day break was reeled in.
Sprint chanceThere was tough riding from the word go on day three as the racers departed Urdax Urdazubi.
Two second category ascents immediately met the peloton and saw some motivated riders looking to go clear. After a brief move featuring Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) it was a lone ranger in the form of Ruben Fernandez (Caja Rural Seguros RGA) who finally slipped away.
The Spaniard pushed onwards valiantly as first Orica GreenEdge, then Team Sky came to the front to eat into his advantage.
The gap eventually began to plummet and with 34km to go a tired Fernandez was finally captured as Danny Pate and Vasil Kiryienka moved up in a bid to control an undulating run in.
Omega Pharma Quick Step and AG2R La Mondiale were among the teams looking to make things difficult over the final third category rise, but on the drop back into Vitoria the home town of Team Sky’s late Carer Txema Gonzalez the race came back together and the sprinters had their moment.
Plan of attackAfter the stage Sports Director Dan Frost talked us through the gameplan as the team looked to set up Swift.
“We tal ray-ban ked about putting on some pressure heading onto the final climbs,” he confirmed. “But as it turned out there was a little headwind going into the second which made it a bit easier for some of the sprinters. The peloton actually did the climb in the big ring so it wasn actually the biggest challenge.
“You can always say afterwards with hindsight but maybe we could have waited and then committed more riders to ray-ban the sprint. Swifty actually rode the sprint like he should. He was on the wheel of Matthews and opened when he had to open. After yesterday we thought today could be the day but if you never go for it than you never get it. The guys did a good job. now turns to the GC battle. it different and we have to protect Mikel for as far as possible, continued the Dane. he have the legs to go with the big favourites for as long as possible on the climb.
“For sure there will be a big battle between (Alejandro) Valverde and Contador. If Mikel can take some seconds away from others that can help him when it comes to the time trial.
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