The Team Sky rider crossed the line at the end of the 158-kilometre stage in 25th place in the same time as winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), thus ensuring there was no change at the head of the general classification.
Roche is still 15 seconds off race leader Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEDGE) while Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpcecin) is just five seconds back in second.
Another Irishman, Roche’s cousin Dan Martin, is fourth at 24 seconds after crossing the line in 59th yesterday, also in the same time as stage-winner Sagan.
Martin has been runner-up in races a staggering 15 times this season but made no mistake this time as he managed to get over the two categorised climbs in the stage and show a clean pair of wheels to Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Credits Solutions) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin).
Today’s 209 kilometre fourth stage is from Estepona to Vejer de la Frontera, finishing close to the southern tip of Spain. It concludes with a short but steep climb four kilometres from the finish and looks perfect for both Martin and Roche to make a bid for the race leader’s red jersey.
Meanwhile, the fallout from Vincenzo Nibali’s expulsion from the race continued last night with the Sicilian claiming he was thrown out for committing an offence he believes happens all the time.
The 2013 Tour de France winner was caught on camera holding onto his team’s car for longer than is permissible, getting an illegal tow up towards the peloton he became distanced from following a crash.
“What happened at the Vuelta happens in every race, even if that does mean what I did isn’t right,” he said.
“I should have been punished. The race judges decide the right punishment.
“I chased back on to show that I’m not hurt and was fine until taking a 150-metre tow - a mistake that people are ready to throw mud at me for and attack me for.
“Yet nobody talks about the people who attacked when others crashed, about a lone chase against 18 attackers. No sir. In cycling the race is the race and nobody waits for you.”