Davide De La Cruz (Quickstep-Floors) took a solo win on stage 3 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, arriving at the finish just 3 seconds before Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) placed 2nd and Jay McCarthy finished in 3rd.
It was a difficult day at the Tour of the Basque Country today as there was 6 categorised climbs to be completed over the 160km route from Gasteiz to Donostia. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka started with a bang as Igor Anton and Ben King tried to find the break of the day. The peloton was having none of it though and all attacks in the first 50km were neutralised.
Eventually 9 riders got away but our African Team had already used up a fair amount of energy in the first hour of racing and so were not part of the escape. With the break going so late Movistar did not want to take any chances and kept the tempo up for the majority of the day, this ensured the break would not survive today.
It was on the penultimate climb of the day when the Spanish team really ramped up the pace making and caught the majority of the breakaway. The remnants of the escape was also reeled in by the time we reached the final climb of the day, which peaked with 10km to go. The attacks came thick and fast on the final climb and this whittled the peloton down significantly.
De La Cruz went over the summit first and he was followed by just 40 riders that made up the peloton 10 seconds later. Our African Team was in a good position with Serge Pauwels, Merhawi Kudus and Steve Cummings all represented in this group of favourites. De La Cruz though, descended like a dropped stone and just held off the chase group. Pauwels was our first rider across the line in 16th but most importantly our African Team still have 3 options on the GC now.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
This was the first real Basque Country stage, the last two stages were not typical Basque Country stages as they were more flat. This was a real hard stage and basically we tried to stay in front all day, save energy and try to have as many riders as possible in the final. We had Merhawi, Steve and myself in that front group which is quite good for us. It gives some good options for what is coming and personally I am happy with my condition at this point.