Remco Evenepoel put to the sword on gravel roads of Valencia

Belgian distanced and out of the race lead as Vlasov takes over at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images

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Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) was left struggling on stage 3 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana after he was distanced on the final gravel climb by all of his main rivals.

The Belgian was briefly dropped at the foot of the final gravel section of the 6km-long Alto Antenas del Maigmó Tibi but fought back before being attacked by the eventual stage winner, and new race leader, Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe).

After being dropped by the Russian, Evenepoel quickly fell out of stage-winning contention and crawled across the line in eighth place, 41 seconds behind Vlasov. That time deficit, plus the 10 seconds picked up by Vlasov at the finish at Anteneas del Maigmo, was enough to dislodge Evenepoel from the race lead with Vlasov taking over the yellow jersey after three days of racing.

The 22-year-old now sits 32 seconds behind the Bora-Hansgrohe rider in the overall classification.

Evenepoel came into today’s stage as the hot favorite for the overall win in Valencia, especially given the fact that he has won every race he’s led during his short but successful career. He looked comfortable on the opening climbs but the Belgian found himself isolated when Movistar hit the front.

Veteran all-rounder Alejandro Valverde split the race with an attack on the lower slopes of the short but difficult gravel climb to the summit finish, with the Spaniard looking to lay the groundwork for his teammate Enric Mas.

Evenepoel was able to battle back and make the key selection, but he was put in difficulty once more when Jakob Fuglsang powered to the front with just over 2km to go. Vlasov was the next rider to try his luck with two powerful surges and it was his second attack that finally distanced Evenepoel, who briefly looked over-geared on the steepest dirt sections.

“I think that the best guy won today,” Evenepoel said after losing the yellow jersey but retaining the best young rider’s lead.

“If you can ride away from everyone then you’re the best and Aleksandr really deserved this victory. He’s shown his good level. I actually felt good all day but on the gravel section, the legs were getting full of lactate. I think that the race for me was maybe 1km too long. Second is such a hard race is still very good for the first race of the season. I always need some races in order to get into good shape.”

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