Tim Wellens has taken his stage victory in the Ruta del Sol. The Limburger moved along in a large leading group, in which he clearly showed himself to be the best. Teammate Tadej Pogacar remains leader. Originally, this morning 161 kilometers were planned for this third stage of the Ruta del Sol. With an arrival on top of the Alcalá de los Gazules. Free bets for Pogacar to win the Tour de France are already being placed after his start of the season. That finish has everything to offer a spectacle. The expected unfavorable weather conditions in the finish area put a stop to that. Wind gusts of more than 75 kilometers per hour were expected, shifting the arrival to the Plaza Alameda de la Cruz. So no full final climb.
21-member leadership group
Almost immediately after the start, a large breakaway formed, in which almost all major teams were represented. Leader Tadej Pogacar sent teammate Tim Wellens ahead, while Samuele Battistella, Gorka Izagirre, Hugo Houle, Pierre Latour and Stefano Oldani also seemed dangerous customers on paper. Further up front: Edoardo Zambanini, Connor Swift, Salvatore Puccio, Felix Engelhardt, Dries De Bondt, Sam Gaze, Laurenz Rex, Davide Bais, Liam Slock, Eric Fetter, Joel Nicolau, Ibai Azurmendi, Geoffrey Soume, Cyril Barthe and José Manuel Diaz.
UAE Emirates with Tadej Pogacar
For UAE Emirates troops, this was an ideal situation. The best placed riders in the front of the standings were Gorka Izagirre and José Diaz. Each about six minutes from Pogacar. That was the signal for the leading team to loosen the reins and let the leading group take a five-minute lead. Along the way, the peloton was startled several times by the strong wind. A first attempt to form a fan came about a hundred kilometers from the finish, but without success. Team Movistar and Bahrain Victorious tried again in the full final, but there were no major breaks in the peloton. However, some riders in the leading group flew off their bikes due to the strong gusts of wind. However, everything came together again in the last twenty kilometers.
Tactical battle in the front
In the front, the realization came more and more that the 21-strong leadership group would fight for victory today, and that Pogacar would therefore not take its fourth consecutive win of the season. That inspired the always tactically strong Dries De Bondt to try to surprise his flight companions. However, the very strong headwind in the final made it difficult to get a gap, so that the attempts of Oldani, Swift and Barthe also had little success. Compatriots Rex and De Bondt joined forces about four kilometers from the finish.
Their lead of about ten seconds was gone just as quickly when Tim Wellens closed the gap in one go. Houle, Barthe and Diaz also closed a gap, but then the steep final kilometer still had to come. No problem for Tim Wellens, who went on and over the trio and also easily drove all the other flight companions out of the wheel. Tadej Pogacar’s leadership position was no longer threatened. Even more, Pogacar easily won the sprint of the group of favorites, about three minutes after the cheering Wellens.