t was an impressive performance by Le Mevel, who crashed hard on his hip with about 30km to go when the peloton was clipping along at 45kph.
“It was a horrible crash. A rider got his pedal caught in my wheel and I fell so hard. I thought I had broken my hip!,” Le-Mével said at the
“I was not sure that I could keep going. I don’t know how I managed, but I finished with the first group. We will see how I am
going tomorrow. It’s a big mountain stage and I will not be at my best. I wanted to work for the GC here with Daniel Martin. It is a shame because I come to this Vuelta in good condition.”
Le-Mével was paced back to the front group by Garmin-Cervélo teammate Sep Vanmarcke.
Le-Méveland Martin both crossed the line in the front GC group of 44 riders at 1:43 behind stage-winner Pablo Lastras, who also took the
leader’s jersey after winning out of a four-man breakaway.
A few big names couldn’t keep pace over the day’s short but steep third-category climb with 12km to go, but Martin and Le-Mével were
both there in the front GC group to end the stage 21st and 22nd, respectively, in the overall standings at 2:20 back.
“It was a hard crash by Christophe. At first we didn’t think he could continue. We will see how he is tomorrow up Sierra Nevada. A crash
like this is never good,” said Garmin-Cervélo sport director Bingen Fernández.
“Daniel rode well and the rest of the team was OK as well.”
“It wasn’t a surprise a break would go today. The question was who wanted to work to try to chase it back. With the final climb, none of
the sprinters were going to make it, so the breakaway worked today,” Fernández said.
The 66th Vuelta continues Tuesday with the first of six summit finishes, at the highest point of this year’s race to the Sierra
Nevada ski area.
The 170.2km fourth stage features three climbs and ends with the 24km push to the summit. Fernández says it will be decisive.
“This is the first real test in this Vuelta. We probably won’t see big time differences, but we will see who is in condition to fight for the
overall victory,” he said. “We hope to have Martin and Le-Mével up there tomorrow with the leaders. Any rider who cannot finish with the leaders tomorrow will have a hard time trying to regain any time they lose.”
More photos from the Vuelta a España: