Contador, Basso, Horner, Leipheimer, Scarponi, Evans… the top-ten into the Queen stage of the Volta a Catalunya, ridden on Wednesday with its finish atop the Andorran ski resort of Vallnord, had most of the best stageraces in the world, and Movistar Team’s Xavi Tondo was there.
The catalan rider from the telephone squad did not disappoint his fans in the local stagerace and hobnobbed within the very best in the key ride of the competition, just as he did in Paris-Nice before a terrible closing stage. Tondo came in ninth place into the finish of the Coll de Pal behind winner and new race leader Alberto Contador (SBS), who outclassed the Levi Leipheimer – Michele Scarponi duo by more than twenty seconds, with the 7-rider group including Tondo -now sitting in 8th overall with four stages not featuring major complications- just behind them, thirty seconds after the Madrilian. The Movistar Team climber analyzed the stage back to the hotel: “It’s not something to be happy, but we were there and we have to value how remarkable the riders we competed to were. We knew everything was to be played today and the team protected me to perfection to come into the finish with good stamina. The thing is that, when Contador attacked, you could see he was far superior from the rest. After him, we tried to go into a group of seven riders that was chasing Leipheimer and Scarponi. We didn’t get well into cooperation and we started attacking to ourselves in the finale so as to see if we could chase them down. I tried it myself a couple of times, but I could only end up in ninth. Unless there’s some surprise, there isn’t going to be any big changes in the upcoming days, so it’s better to keep this place and not seeing something happening like in Paris-Nice. The important thing now is to search for stage-winning options, specially with Rojas, because we’re really looking forward to winning another race.”