Remco Evenepoel took a big step in defending his title on Monday’s third stage of the 78th La Vuelta Ciclista a España, winning on a Andorran summit finish and seizing the red jersey from Andrea Piccolo (Italy/EF Education-EasyPost). He also grabbed the KOM and young rider classification leads. Enric Mas is his closest GC pursuer five seconds back and the Jumbo-Visma pair of Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič are 31 seconds and 37 seconds in arrears respectively.
Day three was all about two mountains in the final third of the day. After a long uphill drag, Cat. 1 Coll d’Ordino would warm up the legs. The first summit finish of the 78th edition was Cat. 1 Arinsal (8.2 km of 7.9 percent) in Andorra. It finally stopped raining but a headwind sapped everyone’s energy.
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) August 28, 2023
It took a while for a breakaway for form, and for a third stage escape it was pretty big. Eleven chaps including Damiano Caruso, Pierre Latour and Lennard Kämna shook loose and headed for Andorra. Jumbo-Visma, Soudal-Quick Step and Ineos drove the peloton, and by the foot of Coll d’Ordino the eleven were 3:20 ahead.
The first ascent fragmented the break, as Caruso and Kämna and three others took their leave. Jumbo continued its presence at the front of the peloton until DSM-Firmenich took over. Caruso, Kämna and Argentinian Eduardo Sepulveda decanted the fugitive group. Piccolo fell away from the peloton, his time in the red jersey over.
Although Sepulveda snagged the KOM points and snatched the polka dot jersey from Sunday escapee Matteo Sobrero, Caruso attacked over the top 1:10 ahead of the diminished field. Sepulveda couldn’t hang on the descent.
Andorran Summit Finish
The Italian-German duo started up Arinsal with the same advantage it had at the crest of Coll d’Ordino. Kämna couldn’t drop the dogged Caruso. No team pushed the pace in the favorites group in the first half of the climb before UAE-Emirates grabbed the reins and whittled down the numbers. Finally, Kämna popped off Caruso, but his bid for glory was doomed.
Juan Ayuso attacked and Sepp Kuss took it up. Jumbo’s American and Marc Soler pulled back the German, with Mas…