Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (st. 4)
Izagirre finishes 3rd in Volta's Queen stage, sits now only 5" behind the overall podium controlled by Sky, Astana. Javi Moreno takes 10th at Xorret de Catí, jumps into 5th overall as Jesús Herrada slips back to 8th
The Movistar Team riders put both their hearts and energy out for a great result on the biggest day of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the 143km stage four between Orihuela and Xorret de Catí. The steep slopes of the 4km climb near Alicante witnessed another exhibition from race leader Wout Poels (SKY), while the Laguía/Jaimerena-directed group tried to profit from their several guns into the first sheet of the standings.
Dayer Quintana responded to an initial acceleration, just over 2km from the top of the ascent, from Astana's Fabio Aru and Diego Rosa, reached down by the leader as the Colombian started to fade due to the increasing pace. Bit by bit, two other Blues started nearing the leader group: Javi Moreno (10th over the finish) and most notably Ion Izagirre, who crested together with Aru himself, Navarro (COF) and Beñat Intxausti (SKY). The two Basques, former team-mates, battled for 2nd place into the sprint, with Beñat taking the better from Ion (3rd).
The new overall classification takes Ion up to fourth place (+1.01), only five seconds behind the virtual final GC podium – probably secured at this point if it weren't for his crash on stage one – as Javi Moreno sits in fifth, 1.10 after Poels and fourteen seconds short of the top three places. Jesús Herrada, less used to demanding gradients like today's – yet a notable 12th at the finish, just over a minute adrift -, slips back to eighth, 1.31 back.
Ion Izagirre: “Xorret was a short climb, yet a very intense one. It took long before a break could established, we spent a long way riding fast until then and once it formed, we already were into complicated sections leading up to the finishing climb. The approach to that uphill was difficult, and getting into a good position was crucial; thanks to our team-mates, we got through Castalla well, and into the climb, it was just a matter of everyone riding by himself, to his own limits -Javi, Jesús, Dayer, me-. Poels showed to be the strongest – hats off to what he did today.
"Already since the day after the crash, I didn't feel in pain nor lacking any energy from that accident. It was a 'clean' crash; I had some bruises, but it didn't affect my performance during the race. It's sad to be just five seconds off the podium; it would have been a great prize for the whole team, to spend four days – five, with tomorrow's stage – helping us out with everything and getting a podium finish in this Volta as a reward. However, all rivals race to win and get good results – we just have to make sure we do better next time."