More of the same in Catalonia
23 March 2012

Catalunya (st. 5) / E3 Harelbeke

Quintana took care of his winning chances in the final ascent as Pardilla struggled to keep his top-ten place in the overall. Lastras makes it to the front group in Harelbeke

Swiss rider Michael Albasini (GEC) is keeping the white-green jersey in the 2012 Volta a Catalunya, seeing a quite similar stage on Friday as what happened on the previous day, with many attacks on the final climb -the Alt de Montserrat (Cat. 1), 22k from the finishing line- which did not stick to avoid a field sprint, with 30 riders contesting the win against Frenchman Julien Simon (SAU), who set the finest timing to grab the day’s honours. Once again, Colombian Nairo Quintana took on the chase for the win showing his great fitness, but his two attempts -the first one into the crazy, opening 100k; the latter one just into the climb- did not have any fruit as the Colombian made the front group together with Sergio Pardilla. Movistar Team’s leader at the Volta struggled to keep the pace into the final slopes of Montserrat, but could bridge into the favourites’ group in the opening phase of the descent and sits now in 8th place, into a hard fight for the top-ten positions with fourteen riders on the same time. Saturday will see stage six roll through a slightly flatter parcours: 169 kilometers from Sant Fruitos de Bagés to Badalona, with the Alt de la Conreria (Cat. 2) 22k from the finish.

Lastras team’s best among Belgian misfortune
In turn, the E3 Prijs Harelbeke in Belgium, ridden as a WorldTour level event for the very first time, saw local hero Tom Boonen (OPQ) taking a record-breaking fifth victory into a 30-rider field contesting the final sprint after 203 kilometers full of climbs and cobblestones. Pablo Lastras always fought with the very favourites, following a puncture that forced his teammates Sanz and Herrada to work hard and bring him back- and came into the main group to defend Movistar Team’s honour, as the squad directed by Yvon Ledanois had a carousel of incidents in the finale, with two punctures from José Joaquín Rojas, who also had to change his bike, and the mechanical failure by Visconti that took him out of contention. The telephone squad will try to bounce their luck back on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem, the second WorldTour event of the week in Belgium over 232 kilometers most suitable to the Blue team’s aspirations.