After an impressive victory earned yesterday in the Roman Village of Clunia, Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) netted another stage win today in stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos on the short climb to Ojo Guareña. The nervous racing which preceded the uphill finish didn’t rattle Keukeleire as the Belgian rider, along with his team, kept control of the situation while attacks and counterattacks took place. In the final kilometer FDJ took over at the head of the peloton, working to set up race leader Anthony Roux for victory. Keukeleire, however, powered away in the closing meters, leaving Roux and Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) clearly behind for second and third respectively.
“Yesterday I even had time to celebrate the victory, but today it has been tougher,” Keukeleire told the media about the outcome of the race. “FDJ imposed a very high pace and I felt it in my legs when the time to dig deep arrived. Anyway, this second victory satisfies me. Although I’m sure I won’t win the overall classification, I’m more than happy with what I have got in my pocket so far.”
Unlike the first two stages of the Vuelta a Burgos, this third one from Villadiego to Ojo Guareña featured a hillier route, with six category 3 climbs, the last being the uphill finish. Because of this, it took a litlle longer for a breakaway to be established. Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Janez Brajkovic (Astana), Zakkari Dempster (NetApp) and Anthony Ravard (Ag2r) were the four who managed to escape from an aggressive bunch, which then relaxed under FDJ’s rythm.
As the climbs went by, Ravard and Dempster were dropped, while Brajkovic and Txurruka survived in the head of the race till 15 kilometers to go. When the Basque and the Slovenian rider were caught, the battle in the pack heated up. Haritz Orbe (Euskadi) and Duber Quintero (Colombia) were two of the most active riders, while Ivan Basso (Cannondale) got involved in a couple of moves. But, despite all the efforts displayed, it all came to an uphill sprint where Keukeleire prevailed again.