Tour (st. 3) / Austria (st. 3)
Movistar Team loses Rojas, crashing out with a broken left collarbone after a crash that also affected Cobo, gets out of victory contention after error by Valverde in a turn with 2k remaining makes him lose privileged position
Movistar Team took the worst part of the action-packed third stage in the 2012 Tour de France, 197 kilometers from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer with a second stage triumph for Slovakian Peter Sagan (LIQ). A crash in the fore of the peloton with 30k from the finish stroke hard two of the telephone squad’s riders, José Joaquín Rojas and Juanjo Cobo. With the Cantabrian untouched -yet with a mechanical that he took long to fix-, the Murcian stood on the ground with strong pain in his shoulder, forcing him to give up. Moved to the Hospital de Boulogne-sur-Mer, the checks practised on him revealed a triple collarbone fracture. The injury will most likely need an operation, so Rojas will probably return to Spain tomorrow in order to be intervened and start his recovery as fast as possible.
Back at the front, Movistar Team tried to keep the race moving into the four Cat. 3 and 4 climbs prior to the finish, with Iván Gutiérrez and Rui Costa escorting Alejandro Valverde. However, a missed turn from the Spaniard with just 2k to go made him lose position and get again into the back, his overcoming frustrated after a crash in the final ramp. Despite losing 7 seconds, the race jury neutralized the times from the 60-rider group at the front, what allows Valverde staying just over a minute behind Cancellara (RNT) in the GC before three stages for sprinters starting on Wednesday (Abbeville-Rouen, 214.5km).
QUOTES Alejandro Valverde: “This is the Tour: there’s much nerves, much danger. At the moment, our goal is intact: we’re riding up-front, I went through a difficult day due to crashes and did not lost time. We were told before the start about a difficult turn to the right, but when we got there, the radio wasn’t working properly and I didn’t hear what they were telling us. I went from fourth to last into the group and, even after that, I got into the crash that happened in the final slope. If I was there with 2k to go, it was because I had good legs. I was into perfect position and had strength into the previous climbs, with no troubles to advance into the group. I’d love to contest a finish like that against Sagan, but we’re not having that chance. We have to congratulate him because he’s showing to be the best into such finishes. There wasn’t much luck for us today, neither by my side nor by Rojas’s. He has had a jinxed Tour and it all finished today. The crash happened at my side of the road, we were riding at front and I saw fast he took his hand to the shoulder, it was really bad. I can only send him my support so he gets up as fast as possible.”
Combative at Austrian mountains
In turn, the 64th Tour of Austria saw a second Alpine stage (Kitzbühel-Lienz, 141km) with much fight from the Movistar Team riders. Beñat Intxausti led from the 13th kilometer a seven-man breakaway which stood together until the Pustertaler (Cat. 1) climb, just over 30k from the finish, after earning a maximum 4 minutes of advantage. After the Basque’s reeling back and a late attempt with no success from Branislau Samoilau, a sprint finish was the way for Sacha Modolo (COG) as José Herrada took the 9th place. Sergio Pardilla still sits in 7th place overall -with Di Luca (ASA) in the lead- before a tough stage four in the Alps: 141k en route to St. Johann, with Iselsberg (Cat. 2) just from the start, the 2,500-meter-high Hochtor (HC), Füscher Törl (Cat. 1) and Dientner Sattel (Cat. 2).