The 3rd stage of the Ruta del Sol came down to another select group sprint with Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff-Saxo) taking the spoils today. Ben Swift (Team Sky) placed 2nd in the sprint and also took over the race lead, while Raymond Kreder (Roompot) was the rider to finish in 3rd on the stage.
Once again Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka put an exciting twist on the final stages of the race, just as they had done during yesterday's stage. When the early break of 9 riders had been caught around the 22km to go mark, Igor Anton and Omar Fraile both looked to take their chances.
Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) would be the first to attack on the final categorised climb of the stage and Anton would respond moments later, trying to bridge the gap. The peloton which was led by Team Sky and Movistar picked up the tempo to bring back Anton on a plateau section of the climb. As the climb kicked upward again, Fraile put in an attack with Navarro 30 seconds up the road.
With 16km to go our Basque rider put his head down and slowly started to reel in the Cofidis rider. The peloton knew the alarm bells were ringing and they had to ride really hard to keep the gap under 30 seconds, which saw a number of riders getting dropped. It took a big effort from Fraile to get across to Navarro who was clearly going well, but the two eventually joined up with 8.5km to go. At this point the gap was down to just 10" as a few sprint trains had formed in the 50 rider chase group.
Fraile and Navarro had enough belief between them though to keep pushing on and at one point an upset for the sprint teams seemed to be on the cards. Unfortunately, as the leading duo crossed under the 1km to go banner, they were swallowed up by the chase group. Gatto took the win after a good leadout from his team.
Fraile and Anton both finished in the main group along with teammates Kanstantsin Siutsou and Cameron Meyer. Tomorrow is an undulating 21km individual time trial, a stage which could suit the likes of Siutsou.
Omar Fraile - Rider
I felt really good today, especially during the second part of the stage. I attacked and rode across to Navarro. We know each other well and we could work together but it was difficult to hold off the peloton riding into the headwind. I am feeling pretty good though so I look forward to more racing with a lot of positivity.