Rubén Fernández comes of age to take the overall lead in Vuelta a Espana
The Movistar Team stroke first at the short, intense climb of the Mirador de Ézaro, end of stage three of the Vuelta a España, by setting in the lead with Rubén Fernández.
Following a summer full of good results and perfectly-timed preparations for the end of the season, the man hailing from Churra was the strongest at the 1.8km climb from the village of Dumbría, from where he drove the pace almost entirely until the finish line, a job well rewarded with the red jersey.
“I couldn’t expect this at all. I knew I was coming in good form to this Vuelta, as I had finished sixth overall in both Pologne and Burgos. Plus, my goal here was working for Nairo and Alejandro. However, I was told in the finale to ride by myself… and here we are, wearing red and the leader’s jersey in my second Grand Tour.”, said Rubén Fernández after the stage.
“It hadn’t really come through my mind to attack: I was just setting the pace in case Nairo could attack, I was trying to make things harder for the rest. At the end, they told e to ride on my own, and I could open that gap. I celebrated out of pure joy, because of the GC lead; by the earpiece I was told I would sit 1st overall after the stage… I couldn’t be happier. My goal remains the same: we can’t forget for a second about helping out our team leaders, which is the main objective, yet I’ll surely defend this jersey with all I’ve got.”
Alejandro Valverde finished 3rd behind his countryman and is already second overall.
“We knew Rubén was in great form leading up to this race, and he proved it today. I’m so happy to see him taking over the lead. He’s a young man, but we all know what he’s made of. The work he did at the front to take us closer to Geniez was excellent; we couldn’t have battled for the stage either if he hadn’t worked, and that’s why I feel he rode perfectly. He dropped all of our rivals but Chaves when we three went ahead, and later on, we could keep a steady pace to keep the gaps and avoid the late push by Froome taking us out of his wheel. Alberto lost a bit of time, but there’s a lot to happen yet in this Vuelta. About me? Well, I didn’t feel bad at all – let’s hope I can keep it up through the next stages.”, said Valverde.