Tour de France (st. 3)
Spaniard takes 3rd in Calvi behind Gerrans (OGE) and Sagan (CAN); no troubles for Movistar Team leaders in last Corsican stage before Tuesday’s important TTT
After several months coming close to a victory in different kings of races and committed to team labours in his fifth Tour de France participation, José Joaquín Rojas shone again into Tour de France sprints at the third, final stage of the race in Corsica. The Spaniard came in 3rd place across Calvi’s finish after a day full of ups and downs into the 146km route starting at Ajaccio. Rojas was one of five Movistar Team riders -along with Valverde, Amador, Costa and Quintana- to reach the summit of the final, Cat-2 climb of Marsolino into the front group.
Quintana and Amador were the men in charge of leading the pace for his team leaders against the flurry of attacks ahead, the last move -featuring Chavanel (OPQ), Nieve (EUS), Nordhaug (BEL) and Rolland (EUC)- being brought back by the bunch with 3k remaining. Rojas took good position into the tricky finish, with two roundabouts in the final 1.5km, and only the bigger power from Gerrans (OGE) and Sagan (CAN) left him away from victory.
Bakelants (RLT) stays in yellow as all Movistar Team GC references maintain their position, one second behind the Belgian, before tomorrow’s long-awaited team time trial in Nice (25k), bound to set the first time gaps ahead of the Pyrenean double mountain stage on Saturday and Sunday. Before that, a transfer awaits to lead both riders -by plane, after the stage- and the race’s caravan -by ferry, already since this morning- back into mainland France.
REACTION / José Joaquín Rojas: “This third place makes me happy, but the man in front of me before the sprint lost a bit of place and I don’t know if I would have been able to contest the stage with Gerrans and Sagan otherwise. Still I’m content with the result, especially because I’ve realized that yesterday’s failure was just a bad day. I had cramps with the heat and felt horribly bad. Things are now working properly. This was a stage I knew that could be good for me, but my priority is always staying with Alejandro and, only after completing my work, looking after my personal chances. It’s a huge moral boost after several setbacks, even a teeth infection in the last few weeks, and being able to contest a Tour sprint with some of the best guys around is a good sign.
Tomorrow’s stage is a crucial one, a big test for the team – let’s hope ig goes well. If we don’t have any problems, I think we’ll end up really high in the standings, even aspire to win. We did well in the last few TTT’s and we hope to keep that level tomorrow. Anyhow, it might well be a moral victory if we just manage to place high, after staying away from troubles in these last few days with Alejandro – gaps won’t be huge between the main favourites.”