Paris-Nice (st. 3)
3rd place for Movistar Team sprinter in Magny-Cours -behind Degenkolb (GIA) and Goss (OGE)- puts José Joaquín in ParisNice’s 4th overall before first hilly stage
Fourth at last Sunday’s debut and tenth yesterday in Saint-Georges into a chaotic finish, José Joaquín Rojas was still lacking a good sprinting performance against the top guns to gain confidence after his injury in Australia, plus a debut in Algarve -4th on stage five-, Murcia (5th) and Almería (6th) full of good places but no huge impression. Today, on stage three of Paris-Nice -180km from Toucy to the Magny Cours speedway in Nevers-, the Cieza-based rider got close to a victory he’s been seeking for the last two years.
Rojillas‘s third place -behind new race leader John Degenkolb (GIA) and Aussie Matthew Goss (OGE)- was based on a fine leadout by his team-mates into the finale. Gutiérrez, Erviti and Gorka Izagirre always kept the front of the field and even picked up the pace considerably at front as soon as the open roads and the gentle winds in Bourgogne offered a chance to break the pack. A bit out of position after a good approach, Rojas overcame several riders with a powerful sprint to clinch his best 2014 result up to date.
With the Spaniard now in 4th overall, 18 seconds behind the yellow jersey, the ‘Course to the Sun’ will make its way into the Massif Central tomorrow. A 201km route awaits the riders on day four from Nevers to Belleville, with two Cat-3 climbs followed by the treacherous Mont Brouilly (Cat-2), just 14k from the finish. Though it’s short (3km at 8.4% average), it features slopes up to 17%.