Route du Sud (st. 3)
Rubén Plaza takes 5th, 10 seconds behind lead group in Luchon as Voeckler (EUC) claims orange jersey; Ventoso suffers fracture at little toe in right foot, withdraws from the race
Sour-and-sweet taste for Movistar Team at the end of the hardest stage in the 2013 Route du Sud. The squad directed in the Pyrenean mountains by José Luis Arrieta put two of their GC riders, Rubén Plaza and Sylwester Szmyd, into top places at the finish after a 175-kilometer trek from Izaourt to Bagnères-de-Luchon, including the Cat-1 cols of Peyragudes, Val Louron and Balès, the latter one just 20k from the finish.
The Spaniard fought until the very end of the stage to bridge to the four-man group away at the hard, final climb, including AG2R duo John Gadret and Romain Bardet, Italian champion Franco Pellizotti (AND) and stage winner and new race leader Thomas Voeckler (EUC). Plaza, who reached the summit of the Balès trailing by 55 seconds, made an excellent recovery to come across the finish with Rosa (AND) and Dupont (ALM), just ten seconds behind in a notable 5th place, few meters behind a six-man third group including Szmyd (11th).
While Plaza and Szmyd were the best news from the Blues -as well as Ángel Madrazo, into several breaks during the first part of the stage-, Fran Ventoso was the low for the Movistar Team after he suffered a big blow in his right foot on Friday evening when getting off the shower at the team bus. The swelling in his little toe didn’t seem good, and X-ray exams undergone after the incident revealed a fracture that forced Ventoso not to start today’s stage and take rest for some days to heal the injury.
Sunday will see the end of the Route du Sud with stage four: 149km from Saint-Gaudens to L’Isle Jourdain.
Pictures (c): Henry Jean – Maxime Lafage / La Route du Sud