Tour of California: Untimely puncture ruins Gaviria’s chances
Laurens De Plus climbs to tenth overall ahead of the race's sole stage against the clock.
Despite having five classified climbs jammed between King City and Laguna Seca, stage 3 of the Tour of California – at 197 kilometers, the longest of this edition – was predicted to end in a bunch sprint, and for that very reason Quick-Step Floors was one of the teams to join the party at the front of the peloton and chase the three-man breakaway that jumped clear 30 kilometers into the stage.
Escorted by his strong squad that two days earlier set up his victory in Long Beach, Fernando Gaviria was at all times present in the upper part of the bunch and looked primed to fight for another win, but a puncture with five kilometers to go on the fast descent to the Laguna Seca Circuit, when the bunch was riding full-throttle behind two late attackers, saw the Colombian's plans go up in smoke.
The fast charging pack cut down the escapees' gap to a mere ten seconds, but a sudden lack of commitment as well as a late surge of Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) resulted in the Latvian taking the victory. A severely reduced peloton arrived eight seconds later, and with it, also Laurens De Plus, who gained a place in the general classification, where he is now tenth ahead of the 34.7km individual time trial from San Jose to Morgan Hill.
Gaviria, who missed the chance to fight for another good result, shrugged off the disappointment at the finish, despite the bout of bad luck which prevented him from scoring important points in the green jersey classification: "It just wasn't my day. I had a small incident on the long climb, followed by a flat on the descent, when the peloton was riding full gas to catch the two guys in the front. That's cycling, what more can I say? I am happy with my legs and with how the team rode, and I will continue to take it stage by stage with the same motivation."
Photo credit: ©Christopher Graythen/ Getty Images