Rodriguez Wins Stage 3 of Volta Catalunya; Takes Overall Lead
Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) has won Stage 3 of the 2014 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. The Spaniard surged away from the lead group in the last two km to win the mountainous, 162.9-km ride from Banyoles to La Molina in 4:50:55. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) finished second at 0:05, and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) finished third at 0:09. Rodriguez is the race’s new overall leader. If you are located in the USA you can watch video highlights from the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in our videos section.
Before today's stage 3, the race organizers considered shortening it because of the threat of snow. The weather held, however, and the riders battled for the stage win and the overall lead on the day’s ascent to La Molina. Six riders--Andrey Zeits (Astana), Jack Bobridge (Belkin), Michel Koch (Cannondale), Kevin Reza (Europcar), Branislau Samoilau (CCC Polsat Polkowice), and Rudy Molard (Cofidis)—jumped clear early and led the field by three minutes at 15 km and 9:30 20 km later. Tinkoff-Saxo Bank led the chase, and Movistar, Sky, and Katusha contributed horsepower.
The bunch ate into the break’s advantage. At the summit of the Special Category Alt de la Creueta (about 100 km), the gap had narrowed to four minutes. The pursuit was slow but relentless, and with 18 km to go the break was two minutes ahead of the bunch. Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, FDJ.fr, Movistar, and Sky pressed the pace and cut the escapees’ lead to two minutes with 14 km to go.
Thomas De Gendt (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) accelerated on behalf of teammate Rigoberto Uran. The resulting combustion drew the peloton closer to the escapees. Reza set out on his own.
Movistar took over at the front with a little more than five km left. The Spanish squad led the field for three km but faltered as the climb began to steepen. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked but was reeled in quickly. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) countered, but Daniel Moreno (Katusha) led Rodriguez to the Dane.
Chris Froome (Sky) attacked, but Rodriguez took the Tour de France champion’s wheel, and Contador and Quintana followed. Rodriguez countered, and Contador attempted to follow, but the Katusha man pulled away from his compatriot to take the stage and the race lead.
Rodriguez’s and Katusha’s strategy was to control the break and for Rodriguez to take care of matters at the end. Rodriguez said, "Everything went fine the entire day. I spoke with my teammates and begged them to keep control of the break and they did a perfect job. Two km from the finish, Dani Moreno made the last effort that was important to make our group smaller and smaller. When Froome attacked, I saw that he lacked the power to win. When he sat down in the saddle again, I attacked. The last kilometer was marvelous."
In the overall, Rodriguez leads Contador by 0:05 and Quintana by 0:09. Stage 4 will be the race’s queen stage. The 166.4-km ride from Alp to Vallter 2000/Setcases will take the field over three Category 1 ascents and a Category 2 climb before the riders tackle the Special Category climb to the finish. It adds up to more fireworks that could change the standings. Who will win? Rodriguez? Contador? Quintana? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!