Volta a Catalunya (st. 3)
Great Movistar Team work leads Quintana into 3rd place in La Molina, first mountain-top finish in the Volta, with no big gaps registered between the main favourites. Rodríguez (KAT) seizes GC lead
It was an equalled, short battle for the main GC contenders on day three of the 2014 Volta a Catalunya, the first mountainous round of the 94th edition over 163 kilometers starting at Banyoles and finishing atop La Molina (Cat-1). Local hero Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT) took the win in front of countryman Alberto Contador (TCS) and Movistar Team’s Nairo Quintana, performing well again after several days through a flu he contracted prior to the Catalan race, while doing a recon of some of the key stages in next May’s Giro d’Italia.
The Colombian found full support all day from a notable Movistar Team, which took responsibility into the main field through the day’s most demanding climb, La Creueta (HC), to limit gaps with the six-man early breakaway. Kevin Reza (EUC) was the last man caught, already into the ending climb, after Moreno and Castroviejo did a notable work in the run-in, followed by Plaza and an excellent Igor Antón. The Basque climber strung out the group in the hardest slopes, warming up the race before the attack by Chris Froome (SKY). The Kenyan-born Brit was responded by Contador and Nairo before the counter by Rodríguez (KAT), who raised his arms victorious with 5secs over the Madrilian and 9″ on the telephone squad’s leader, now sitting in 3rd overall.
Following a short, yet intense day in the mountains, Thursday’s ride will bring even more demanding roads for all riders, with 166km between Alp and the HC ascent towards Vallter 2000, where Quintana claimed honours in 2013. “We’ve seen which are the main favourites“, explained Nairo to portal Biciciclismo.com. “The important thing will be sticking to them and see where we can get. It will be a beautiful day, such good memories from last year“. Before heading into the Setcases climb, a long chain awaits with Toses (Cat-1), Canes (Cat-2), Oix (Cat-2) and Rocabruna (Cat-1.)