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On form Roche fifth as Lastras celebrates lucky break

Posted 22 August 2011

Nicolas Roche provided the first real indicator that he is on form at the Vuelta á Espana by placing fifth on stage three to Totana where Pablo Lastras (Moviestar) soloed to victory from a day-long break.

Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) led home the chase group of 43 riders which also included Dan Martin (Garmin Cervelo) after the peloton blew apart on the third category climb of the Alto de la Santa just 12.4 kilometres from the finish.

Lastras’s victory in the 163 kilometre stage from Petrer saw him take over the race lead from Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) while Roche and Martin also made margin gains in the overall GC.

The Spaniard attacked over the top of the final climb to distance breakaway companions Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep), Rusian Pydgornyy (Vacansoleil DCM) and Markel Irizar Aranburu (Radioshack).

The quartet went clear after 14 kilometres with Nicolas Edet (Confidis) for company but shed the Frenchman after building up a maximum lead of 7’53” en route to the first third category climb of the Alto de Berro.

The peloton were content to leave it to Leopard Trek to reduce the deficit but it was Bradley Wiggin’s Team Sky who caused the damage on the next climb of the Alto de Santa as the gap to the leaders fell to under three minutes.

Lastras, who was the best placed rider in the breakaway having started the day just 14 seconds off the race leader’s red jersey, seized his moment over the summit using his experience on the rapid descent to hold out for a memorable win.

Roche and Martin were comfortably placed in the chase group as the peloton splintered itself over the mountain. The duo kept close tabs on all of the other race favourites on the descent and run into Totana as Chavanel took second place ahead of Irizar and Pydgornyy.

Roche produced a show of strength by taking the sprint for fifth place while Martin placed 20th as the chase group came in 1’43” down. 

Roche’s performance saw him climb to 39th in the GC with an overall deficit of 2’37” while Martin lies 21st overall with a deficit of 2’20”.

Both riders will have an opportunity to significantly improve their standings in tomorrow’s first mountain stage. The 170.2 kilometre stage from Baza includes category one and three climbs before the hors category summit finish at Sierra Nevada.

Results:

2011 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 3: Petrer – Totana, 163 kilometres

1.  Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team 3:58:00
2.  Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team at 0:00:15
3.  Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team RadioShack
4.  Ruslan Pydgornyy (Ukr) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
5.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale

5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 1 minute, 43 seconds
20. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin Cervelo – same time

General classification after stage 3:

1.  Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team 8:25:59
2.  Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team at 0:00:20
3.  Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team RadioShack at 0:01:08
4.  Ruslan Pydgornyy (Ukr) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team at 0:01:24
5.  Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek

21. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin Cervelo at 2 minutes, 20 seconds
39. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 2 minutes, 37 seconds

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