Apocalyptic conditions in Queen stage
21 March 2012

Volta a Catalunya (st. 3)

Horrible weather forces to stop the race before the two decisive climbs in a day where Valverde and Moreno did not take the start. Erviti takes 14th in Belgium

The long awaited Queen stage in the 92nd Volta a Catalunya was severely conditioned by disastrous weather conditions that devastated the riders for more than four hours since the depart from La Vall d’En Bas. The peloton barely stood unstopping rain and intense cold through the first two climbs of the day, the latter two -Cantó (HC) and Port-Ainé (finish)- being covered by snow. In view of the conditions, the organisers decided to finish the race into kilometer 155 of 211 planned and award Brajkovic (AST) the victory, the Slovenian coming first into the improvised finish line via a long break. The day’s times won’t count towards the overall classification, thus making Michael Albasini (GEC) stay in the white-green jersey.

At the peloton taking the start, two Movistar Team riders didn’t show up: Alejandro Valverde and Javi Moreno, leaving the race after his weak physical status. The Andalusian, racing the Volta after a last-minute entry to replace his team-mate Iván Gutiérrez, could not get over his gastrointestinal diseases starting right on stage one. In turn, Valverde, with strong pain in his right shoulder after a hard crash on Tuesday, decided to return home in a prediction of the difficulties ahead. The horrible climate conditions and the hard route strongly advised against his participation as he had many problems to hold strong on his bike’s handle.

Erviti 14th in Belgium
On the other hand, Imanol Erviti was the best Blue representative at the team’s debut in the Dwars door Vlaanderen race in Belgium. The Spaniard attacked in the final 15k from the group of favourites to end in 14th place, just behind the 8-man group that led the race and saw Terpstra (OPQ) attacking in the final hills to win solo. The Dutchman completed the 201-kilometer course from Roeselare to Waregem with almost a minute of advantage over the rest of the break and three over the group following Erviti, including Rojas (20th), Lastras, Konovalovas and Visconti. The Italian champion tried his way into several attempts to chase down the leaders but, as well as Enrique Sanz –part of a 13-rider group starting their move just before the day’s opening climb-, will have to wait for the two races still ahead for Movistar Team into their Flemish week of racing: the E3 Harelbeke (Friday) and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.