Generally in stage races, you don’t learn much new on the second mountain stage that you didn’t find out on the first, especially in a week-long event. The strongest climber generally wins when the race goes into the mountains, and all other things being equal, that makes them the favourite on any subsequent climb.

DSM’s Romain Bardet dropped everybody to win alone on stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos, using the steep climb of the Picón Blanco, which came not long before the finish in Espinoso de los Monteros, to attack and go into the race lead. In doing so, he became the favourite to win his first stage race in eight years. With two days to go, he led Mikel Landa by 45 seconds, and the only challenge left was the final day’s summit finish on the iconic Burgos climb of Lagunas de Neila.

But Bardet had crashed en route to his stage win. Just a small prang, but perhaps enough to bend his body slightly out of shape, and on Lagunas de Neila, Bahrain Victorious put the Frenchman under pressure, with a classic onetwo. Mark Padun was the first to attack in the final kilometres, and given that the Ukrainian rider was in fifth overall, just over a minute behind, Bardet was obliged not to let him get away. But the effort

involved in chasing cost him dear and rendered him even more vulnerable to Padun’s teammate Landa, who was in turn even more dangerous to the Frenchman. Landa attacked, Bardet cracked, and in just a few short kilometres the general classifica­tion was upended with Landa taking sixth on the stage, but easily putting enough time into Bardet to win the overall. Padun rose to third.

Having two riders high on GC is a big advantage, especially with a fragile race leader. Bahrain could have thrown Padun and Landa at Bardet in either order. He could maybe match one, but not the combinatio­n of the two.

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 ??  ?? Bahrain Victorious won the Vuelta a Burgos using strength in numbers
Bahrain Victorious won the Vuelta a Burgos using strength in numbers

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