Volta a Catalunya – Joaquim Rodriguez wins Mountain Top Race


Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) broke away from the other race favorites on the monntain top finish to take the lead in the Volta a Catalunya

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Volta a Catalunya – Joaquim Rodriguez wins Mountain Top Race

Britain’s Adam Yates 17th on Stage – Froome in the mix
After two bunch finishes, the Volta a Catalunya got tasty on Wednesday when on a mountain top finish, the GC favourites went wheel to wheel to see who has the best climbing legs in March.


Photo: Team Katusha

On the first of two mountain top finishes in the 2014 edition of the race, Joaquim Rodriguez won not only the stage but also the leader’ jersey. It was the first win of the season for the Spanish rider and second in four days for the Katusha team after Sunday’s Milan San Remo victory for Alexander Kristoff.

The 162.9km stage began in Banyoles and ended in the snowfields at La Molina after almost five hours of racing and a second day of freezing weather for the peloton. A group of six riders featured in the day’s breakaway over the category 1 and HC climbs on the first part of the course and there was still a large selection at the foot of the last category 1 finish climb.

The final climb of 5.3km to go showed Rodriguez at his finest, patiently waiting in the wheel of teammate Dani Moreno until the final kilometre of racing. Purito Rodriguez said afterwards: “Everything went fine the entire day. I spoke with my teammates and asked them to keep control of the break and they did a perfect job. At 2k from the finish, Dani Moreno did the last effort that was important to make our group smaller and smaller.”

“When Froome attacked, I saw that he missed the power to win. When he sat down in the saddle again, I attacked. The last kilometer was marvelous.”

The rider nicknamed ‘Purito’ pulled to the left at 500 meters to go and increased his speed, taking on the final hairpin turns with ease to arrive at the finish line arms raised in victory. Two of the sports leading climbers and GC contenders for stage races; Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) and Nairo Quintana of Movistar; completed the top three at five and nine seconds respectively behind Rodriguez.

“It was not so easy,” explained Joaquim Rodriguez. “On the descent to La Molina, I thought I was on the North Pole, it was so cold. Fortunately, I could take some clothes at the top and I was well protected. And it’s good there was no rain.”


Photo: www.voltacatalunya.cat

For Sky’s Chris Froome, despite losing time to his rival, he was still pleased with his performance. “I’ve come back after a long period of racing and I was really happy with today.”

“Okay I didn’t win the stage and I lost a bit of time in the final, but all things considered, I’m really happy with my condition. Especially after taking a little bit of a break with my back problem. It’s a really positive sign for me to be at the front of the race again.”

“We came into the last 500 metres and it had been quite fast until then. It wasn’t a very steep finish but it was more explosive. I thought ‘if I’m going to try anything, it might as well be here’. I gave it a little push but the main contenders – Rodriguez, Contador, Quintana and Tejay – all followed my wheel and accelerated past me.”

“I’m happy I tried but I know I’ve got a lot of work to do on my condition.”

Adam Yates top finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE
North West rider Adam Yates, a first year pro, was the top finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE. While the result may not stand out on paper, it’s an important part of Yates’ progression as an eventual overall contender.

Below: Adam Yates has already been on the podium for Orica-GreenEDGE.

“Our original plan for today centered around Simon Clarke,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “We had to do a rethink that when Clarkely pulled out of the race yesterday with a sore knee. We switched things around and determined the main objective of the day was to continue our involvement in preparing Adam and Esteban for their longer-term general classification ambitions – not here at Catalunya but somewhere down the line. Today was one small step in their path of becoming overall contenders.”

“Adam and Esteban are learning. They need to learn how to ride for the overall – and one piece of that is learning how to best use their teammates. That was the focus for the day. Esteban made it to the last kilometre in the front,” said Stephens. “When the attacks began, he got shelled. Adam maintained contact nearly to the end.”

Queen Stage Today
Rodriguez looks to stage four: “Tomorrow will be the queen’s stage and harder than today, but also a good day for me and I can ride in defensive mode. I took five seconds today. That is not so much, but when the favorites stay together, I will keep my advantage. Before today I never thought I’d be able to take even one second. I was thinking more of Betancur or Moreno for today, but then I suddenly felt so good…”

“Ten years ago I won the Semana Catalana,” said Rodriguez. “It would be nice to win the Volta this year, but let’s be careful in our thinking. Don’t forget that the level of this race is so high. It’s nice to see all the big names here and when you see that Evans was already top in Down Under, Quintana in Argentina, Contador and Valverde also, I could not stay behind…”

With four stages still to race, including tomorrow’s second day in the high mountains, Joaquim Rodriguez holds the top spot on the classification with 5 seconds to Contador. Tomorrow’s stage begins in Alp and goes to Vallter 2000 – Setcases for an uphill finish on the Hors category climb after 166km of racing.

1 RODRIGUEZ Joaquim Team Katusha 04:50:55
2 CONTADOR Alberto Tinkoff-Saxo 00:05
3 QUINTANA Nairo Movistar Team 00:09
4 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC Racing Team 00:11
5 FROOME Christopher Team Sky 00:13
6 POZZOVIVO Domenico AG2R La Mondiale 00:14
7 KELDERMAN Wilco Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
8 TALANSKY Andrew Garmin Sharp
9 BARDET Romain AG2R La Mondiale
10 NIEMIEC Przemyslaw Lampre – Merida 00:20

13 URAN Rigoberto Omega Pharma – Quick-Step @ 0.23
14 HESJEDAL Ryder Garmin Sharp
17 YATES Adam Orica GreenEDGE @27 seconds
28 MARTIN Daniel Garmin Sharp @0.31
34 SANCHEZ Luis Leon Caja Rural – Seguros RGA @ 0.40
37 HORNER Chris Lampre – Merida @0.47
40 SáNCHEZ Samuel BMC Racing Team
46 REBELLIN Davide CCC Polsat Polkowice @0.54
81 VOECKLER Thomas Team Europcar 04:05
92 DE GENDT Thomas Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 06:28
109 VOIGT Jens Trek Factory Racing
150 EDMONDSON Joshua Team Sky 11:19

1 RODRIGUEZ Joaquim Team Katusha 12:58:00
2 CONTADOR Alberto Tinkoff-Saxo 00:05
3 QUINTANA Nairo Movistar Team 00:09
4 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC Racing Team 00:11
5 FROOME Christopher Team Sky 00:13
6 KELDERMAN Wilco Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 00:14
7 BARDET Romain AG2R La Mondiale
8 TALANSKY Andrew Garmin Sharp
9 POZZOVIVO Domenico AG2R La Mondiale
10 NIEMIEC Przemyslaw Lampre – Merida 00:20
11 HESJEDAL Ryder Garmin Sharp 00:23
12 URAN Rigoberto Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
13 ARROYO DURAN David Caja Rural – Seguros RGA
14 ARU Fabio Astana Pro Team
15 FUGLSANG Jakob Astana Pro Team 00:27
16 YATES Adam Orica GreenEDGE
17 PINOT Thibaut FDJ.fr
18 MARTIN Daniel Garmin Sharp 00:31
19 NIEVE Mikel Team Sky
20 KISERLOVSKI Robert Trek Factory Racing

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