Vuelta a Espana 2013: Riders to Watch in Spanish Third Stage
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Following an excitement-packed second stage, the third stage of this year’s Vuelta a Espana may find itself against a literal uphill battle, but should maintain the standard of cycling on show.
However, Nicolas Roche won’t be thinking that far ahead of his current standing right now, having pulled off an incredible victory in the 178-kilometre ride, coming into the lead with barely a kilometre left in Stage Two and claiming somewhat of a shock win.
The Irishman will have now painted somewhat of a target on his back for the coming examinations, although Vincenzo Nibali remains the overall leader in the standings.
With Stage Three now next on the agenda, Monday promises to once again play host to some of cycling’s biggest names, a few of whom stand out among the rest of the field.
Managing to stick with the breakaway peloton in the competition’s first stage proper, Rigoberto salvaged some pride for Team Sky by finishing sixth and has earned himself a top-10 place in the standings.
Fourteen seconds behind winner Roche at the close of the race, Uran set a decent standard to live up to in time for Stage Three, whereas his teammates didn’t fare quite so well.
With two Major victories in 2012, the Team Sky star has thrived as a leader in his recent racing history, but can now bask in the absence of former leader Bradley Wiggins, who won't be on show to diminish Uran's contributions this time round.
The Colombian Olympic silver medalist won’t have been viewed as Sky’s favourite to succeed this early in the competition in favour of Sergio Henao, but he will now have turned some heads in time for the coming tests.
Somewhat of a surprise name to emerge as Sunday’s victor, Nicolas Roche came out of the woodwork late on to claim a momentous victory in the Spanish mountains, climbing magnificently towards the race’s end.
Should Roche succeed in claiming back-to-back wins, he'll grab the Red Jersey and also has a chance at the 10 bonus seconds on offer.
The Irishman was right to revel in his achievement and now sits just eight seconds behind Nibali in the overall standings, his joy evident on Sky Sports Cycling’s Twitter feed:
Per the Irish Independent, Roche commented prior to the race that he’d be disappointed if he didn’t finish in the top 10 or higher in this event. Stage Three will test just whether the 29-year-old has the necessary resolve to make that a reality, considering this is the biggest win of his career so far.
The French-born cyclist hasn't claimed a Grand Tour win in almost 10 years as a professional, but is now in good stead to break that particular trend.
As previously mentioned, Sergio Henao was the Team Sky cyclist heading into Stage Two with the weightier share of their responsibilities, and he failed to live up to expectations in that way.
So, the 185-kilometre ride along the Mirador de Lobeira will provide the Colombian cyclist with as much of a physical obstacle to overcome as much of a mental one.
Naturally a climber, Henao will need to be at the front of the race coming into 1.5 kilometres from the finish, as there are areas of eight percent along the Camino Novo, making any late surges from further out highly unlikely.
As things stand, Henao hasn’t done enough to warrant a top-10 position, and questions will be raised as to just whether or not his team intend on sticking with him as their intended leader.
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