Stage 3 of the Vuelta a España yesterday saw the most thrilling of conclusions with a sprint finish atop the category 1 Alto de Arrate climb that virtually redefined the term ‘photo finish’. Ultimately though it was Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde who claimed victory over fellow Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), with race favourites Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) crossing the line (in the same time) for third and fourth at the end of the 155km hilly stage through the Basque region of northern Spain.
Rodriguez was clearly infuriated by his failure, saying afterwards, ‘I lost a stage I was virtually holding in my hands. I knew the profile of the stage, especially I knew in the end I had to stay ahead because of two difficult downhill corners. In fact I was perfect: but in the last 5 meters I stopped to pedal and Valverde passed me for a bunch of millimetres. I expected today the favourite riders to be at the same standard and I have very good feelings about my shape, but in this moment I’m so pissed against myself that I don’t really care. I can only think I lost a stage not because I was weaker, but because I was stupid.’