Volta a Catalunya (st. 3)
Alejandro Valverde claims 101st career victory atop La Molina, clinches 10th success for Blues in 2017 by beating top GC contenders in Volta
After a controversial decision detracted the Movistar Team their victory on Tuesday, the telephone squad stroke back in the best way possible, claiming a fantastic win with Alejandro Valverde on stage three of the Volta a Catalunya, finishing atop the Cat-1 climb of La Molina. The Spanish rider took his 101st pro success ahead of Dan Martin (QST), who anticipated the man from Murcia's acceleration with an attack 300m from the line, one that 'Bala' overtook without major problems to secure his success.
The Blues' leader on Catalan soil crowned a nice piece of work from his week, mostly protagonized by Marc Soler. The 23-year-old local launched one of the final attacks that set up the finish for his leader, who now sits back in full contention after the one-minute penalty the race jury put on all his team-mates this very morning.
Thanks to the 10-second bonus and small splits in the finale, Valverde now ranks 4th overall, 45" behind race leader Tejay Van Garderen and only four and one, respectively, from second and third-placed Samuel Sanchez and Geraint Thomas, which complete the provisional podium. Marc Soler retains a magnificent 6th spot and will wear the best young rider's jersey on stage four, Thursday, a 194km journey down from the Pyrenees, between Llívia and Igualada, with the Cat-2 Turó del Puig ascent just 13 kilometers from the end.
Alejandro Valverde: "It was a very fast start before the break went finally away. The last 50km were also really hard, too. Sky made it harder with a strong pace through the entire finale, but the team kept me protected perfectly and Soler was excellent controlling all moves into the last kilometers. Part of this victory is his, too. To be honest, I just had to make sure I sprinted properly. When Daniel Martin attacked, I went on his wheel quickly – I knew it would be difficult for him to beat me, because such uphill finishes really suit me well.
"We must continue to ride focusing on one stage at a time – get through Thursday first and then see how we're feeling for Lo Port, which will be a really stepp finish. I prefer not to further opine on what happened yesterday, everyone could see the images. Inwardly, we know we won that stage and we did it fairly. For the time being, our Volta can only be qualified as phenomenal.”
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport