Quintana into late attacks during Catalunya stage 3; Colombian 6th across the line, sits 19" behind new leader Dan Martin (EQS). Rubén Fernández abandons with flu after Paris-Nice's foul conditions
La Molina’s finish, first mountain-top arrivée in the 2016 Volta a Catalunya, eventually became a last-kilometer duel between GC contenders after control from its teams prevailed throughout the whole stage three. Nairo Quintana tried twice to leave his rivals behind, the Colombian – well supported by the whole Movistar Team, including Marc Soler’s big pace through Toses (Cat-1) and Winner Anacona’s support in the finale – crossing the line in 6th place, 8” behind Dan Martin (EQS). Nairo is now fifth overall, 19” in arrears.
On the other hand, the Movistar Team regretted to lose one of its riders, Rubén Fernández, due to a flu caused by the recent Paris-Nice, covered in rain and snow. The squad directed by Arrieta and Laguía will tackle the Volta’s Queen stage with just seven riders, as roads remain steep on the 172.2km from Bagá to the HC ascent of Port Ainé (18.5km at 6,2%).
Nairo Quintana: “We felt pretty well, yet we missed some bit of speed at the end. It was a nervous stage, quite a cold one on the summits. We were lucky it didn’t rain; also, the work by Endura this season with the foul weather kits has been fantastic. I’m leaving back to the hotel satisfied, as I did at least give it a try – let’s hope for a better day tomorrow. The team reacted quite well all day, keeping us at the front and covering any need I had. Let’s hope both weather and team-mates remain as good as today, so we can improve this fifth spot.”
José Luis Arrieta (DS): “Team-wise, we worked well. We stayed the whole day at the front, we cooperated with Sky when the break got 12 minutes, so we could fight for the stage… but still, in such an explosive finish, it’s sort of a lottery. Maybe Nairo jumped a bit too far, too early, yet this is his first European race of the season, his first contact with the mountains here… we must remain safisfied. Rubén? He was struggling after Paris-Nice, with snow on those two days and cold temperatures almost the whole race. It seemed like he would get over it, only some coughing, but it was a flu at the end – he will have to stop for a while.”
Dwars door Vlaanderen: Amador in the mix
In the aftermath of the brutal terrorist attacks in Brussels, the four Movistar Team riders available to race in Belgium -Andrey Amador, Fran Ventoso, Juanjo Lobato and Jasha Sütterlin- rode over cobblestones for their first time into a race this 2016 during Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen (1.HC), 200km with 12 short climbs between Roeselare and Waregem.
Costa Rican Amador was the Blues’ top performer, 26th at the finish, into the main group’s sprint led by Jens Debusschere (LTS). Andrey stayed near the top contenders into the final chain of famous cobbled climbs – Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg – and fought to bring back both attempts from Kevin Van Melsen (WGG) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). All three other riders from the telephone squad finished into the second main field, 50” behind.
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport / Luis Ángel Gómez