Maximiliano Richeze (Argentina) ran out of real estate to finish a close second. Race leader Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) rolled across the line third, just ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) and Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies).
As an attack was launched to start the race track circuits in the final 5km by Eolo-Kometa’s Simone Bevilacqua, there was a crash behind which delayed reactions to begin the chase. The big teams made the catch with 2km to go and then battled the wind to set up the lead-out trains.
Then from amid the long shadows of the setting sun, Simmons launched his sprint from a corner with 500 metres to go and denied a tidal wave of sprinters the chance for victory.
How it unfolded
The soaring temperatures had contributed to some early abandons at the Vuelta a San Juan and the 146 riders left in the race were glad of the shelter afforded in the paddocks of the motor-racing circuit at Villicum ahead of stage 3, which was again played out beneath blazing sunshine.
The stage began and ended on the circuit, and while the spoils were always likely to decided on the race’s return to the Autodromo, that didn’t dissuade two enterprising bands of early attackers from forging clear. The two groups eventually coalesced, leaving Marcelo Méndez, Pedro Gordillo (Rawson), Emiliano Contreras (Chimbas), Daniel Juarez, Mauricio Domínguez (Virgen de Fatima), José Rodríguez (Chile) and Lukas Dundic (Argentina) out in front.
The leaders established a maximum lead of five minutes on the almost entirely flat course before the peloton gradually set about the task of reeling them back in. Like on the opening two days, Bennett’s Bora-Hansgrohe and Jakobsen’s Soudal-QuickStep teams found common cause in leading the pursuit, and well before the shadows began to lengthen, it was clear the stage would be decided on the finale back on the motor racing circuit.
The escapees were duly clawed back with a shade over 30km remaining. From there, the bunch finish looked a certainty, even if the undulations of the Villicum track had the potential to spring an upset, as Zdeněk Stybar showed here in 2020.
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