UAE Team Emirates tackled the second road stage of this year’s Vuelta a Espana with a solid performance that saw the team’s young Italian sprinter, Simone Consonni, contest a fast sprint finish after nearly five hours of racing.
The 23-year-old Italian finished fifth, with Quick-Step Floors rider Elia Viviani triumphant.
Team leader Fabio Aru continued to build on his form and crossed the line just behind the sprinters to move into 18th position in the GC standings.
The 178.2km route, which ran from the coastal town of Mijas to Alhaurin de la Torre was always going to favour the sprinters, despite featuring one category one and one category two climb over the Puerto del Madrono and Puerto Viento respectively.
The pace was high throughout the day and the early breakaway riders were only given a short leash before they were finally reeled back in over the last 10kms of the race, allowing the sprinters in the pack to contest the podium.
Consonni got himself into a great position during the ‘flame rouge’ and battled hard over the final 200m – against a world class field of fast men –to take a well-earned fifth spot behind Italian icon Viviani who won the stage in 4:48:12”.
Commenting on his top five finish, Consonni said: “I’m pretty satisfied, especially because I’ve had some tough days to contend with in these early stages.
“I did my best to avoid being dropped on the climbs today and had great support from my teammates. I succeeded in being in the peloton for the sprint and in achieving a fifth place, which is a good result for me as it’s my first sprint in a Grand Tour.”
Further back in the peloton, UAE Team Emirates’ domestiques worked tirelessly to protect their GC leader Aru who, despite carrying light abrasions to his right leg from the previous day’s crash, kept himself in the mix during the long flat run in to the finish to gain a respectable position on day three of La Vuelta.
Stage 4 is another hilly day for the peloton and features the second of nine summit finishes. The route leaves the Costa del Sol from Velez-Malaga and runs for 162km to Sierra de la Alfaguara via an inland course that includes two category one climbs; the first over the Alta de la Cabra Montes and the second up the Puerto del Alfacar to the finish line, which sits 1,440m above sea level.
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