Volta a Catalunya (st. 3)
Movistar Team leaders conceeds 19" with GC favourites in Girona after crash in Santa Pellaia climb; Spaniard responds by himself after early help from team-mates, sits now in 11th overall
Alejandro Valverde went over his most difficult day so far this season on stage three of the Volta a Catalunya, where good luck turned his back against him really far from the finish. The Spaniard was crashed against from behind in Santa Pellaia (Cat-2), penultimate of the four rated climbs in today's loop around Girona, and lost sight of the main bunch while he solved a mechanical, assisted by the team staff and riders Sutherland, Herrada and Anacona.
Despite the telephone squad's leader reaching the tail of the main field through the crest, a series of crashes into the descent broke the peloton into two groups, forcing the Murcia-based rider to keep pursuing. Initially alone, then helped out by Rubén Fernández and other teams, his gap, which grew up to 1 minute into the decisive climb of Els Àngels (Cat-1), was dramatically reduced as the tenacity and constance by 'Bala' saw him catch Chris Froome (SKY) and other GC favourites. The gap across the line was just 19" to Urán, Contador, Aru and Porte, with stage winner Domenico Pozzovivo (ALM) a further three seconds away.
Valverde is now 11th overall, 2'36" in arrears of race leader Pierre Rolland (EUC) and 22" behind Pozzovivo, before Thursday's queen stage over the climbs of Bracons (Cat-1), Coubet (Cat-1), Creueta (HC) and La Molina (Cat-1).
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde (vía Biciciclismo): “It wasn't a puncture: I was hit from behind and some of my team-mates crashed. The race was really on, with Saxo pushing hard behind, and not only them, also Astana. Still, this is cycling, that's how things happen – we won yesterday, we had a crash today and we couldn't fight for another win. We must stay happy with this short loss, and it could have been even better – I wouldn't have lost any time without the crash. Let's see how my legs respond tomorrow; I think it will be the decisive stage."