Trek-Segafredo aces La Vuelta’s first mountain test

Kenny Elissonde 3rd from the day’s breakaway as Giulio Ciccone finishes with the GC rivals in Stage 3 at La Vuelta

Straying from the typical layout of other Grand Tours, something La Vuelta prides itself in, the organizers scheduled a tough summit finish three days into the three-week race that tested the general classification rivals and gave an early chance to breakaway opportunists.

And Trek-Segafredo showed they were ready. Kenny Elissonde finished 3rd from the day’s escape group and just missed out on claiming the red leader’s jersey.

Not far behind, in the group with the overall contenders, young Juan Pedro Lopez paced Giulio Ciccone up the steep slopes of the seven-kilometer climb and allowed the Trek-Segafredo leader to finish amongst the GC rivals.

A top grade for Ciccone in his first test as GC leader.

“Being the first uphill finish, I’m satisfied,” said Ciccone. “The first part of the race was relatively quiet. Good job by Kenny [Elissonde] getting in the breakaway, which was our goal for the day. We all know it could be suited for his characteristics.

“The first summit finish is always an eagerly awaited test and for me, it went as expected. I climbed with a regular pace, always in the first positions. Juanpe (Juan Pedro Lopez) did a great job supporting me, especially in the final part of the climb with the headwind. In my “day by day” Vuelta, today we put a positive checkmark.”

Although Trek-Segafredo missed out on victory and taking the coveted leader’s jersey, their efforts in the first mountain finish showed they had prepared well for a Grand Tour of novelties and great opportunities.

Kenny Elissonde sits in 2nd overall and Giulio Ciccone in 8th and plenty of chances ahead.

I was not in a great day. I was feeling bad. I think the others thought I was playing a game with them, but I was a bit full-gas so I told them, 'guys let's just keep riding together and the strongest will win'. It would be nice that someone from the breakaway would win after riding together all day and we just needed to cooperate a bit more.

All whole day it was a headwind, and the climb was hard; it was grippy.

©️Charly López

This was a stage that I spoke with my DS when we arrived because I didn't think a GC team would want to control it today, especially with the headwind.

I knew it would be a good climb to try and get the jersey, but after the Tour and the Olympics, I am a little bit tired, so I was really just trying to win the stage and not more.