Volta a Catalunya: Brajkovic wins shortened third stage
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Volta a Catalunya: Brajkovic wins shortened third stage

by Shane Stokes at 11:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Volta a Catalunya
 
Snow leads to route being slashed and prompts many riders to withdraw

Janez BrajkovicAstana rider Janez Brajkovic won today’s third stage of the Volta a Catalunya, coping best with the freezing conditions which led to a large number of riders withdrawing from the race.

He beat Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Mickael Cherel (Ag2r La Mondiale), Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team), Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack - Nissan), Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin - Barracuda) and four others to the line, with the peloton a long way back.

Race judges deliberated for some time afterwards, before finally deciding that the general classification would not be affected by the outcome.

What was set to be the hardest stage of the race indeed turned out that way, but the difficulty was down to climatic conditions rather than the route itself. Organisers slashed the stage from 210.9 to 155 kilometres due to freezing conditions and snow on the final climb. It meant that the Queen stage lost the two hors categorie ascents and was essentially neutered for the climbers, while the break got to fight for the victory rather than having to worry about being reeled back in.

In addition, the conditions led to a substantial number of riders pulling out, including Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), Sky Procycling’s Bradley Wiggins and Richie Porte, and the BMC Racing Team’s Tejay Van Garderen.

The day’s move started seventeen kilometres after the start when Chris Anker Sörensen (Saxo Bank) and Johann Tschopp (BMC Racing Team) broke clear on the first category Alto de Coubet. Brajkovic bridged across several kilometres later, then at the 34 kilometre point Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank), Romain Bardet, Mickael Cherel (both Ag2r La Mondiale), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Barracuda), Michal Golas (Omega Pharma Quick Step), Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack) and Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil) also made it to the front.

The peloton was one minute 25 seconds back at this point and, with the weather worsening and the TV helicopters unable to fly because of the conditions, the gap grew.

After 53 kilometres the break was four and a half minutes clear. Rohregger, Sorensen and Golas led over the top of the first category Collada de Toses, 74.5 kilometres after the start. The gap was up to eight minutes 40 seconds at the 100 kilometre point, and this increased to ten minutes 50 seconds at kilometre 123.5.

The original route would have seen just over 85 kilometres remaining at that point, giving scope for the peloton to chase. However with snow on the final climb, the organisers took the decision to move the finish to a point before it and the preceeding peak, that of the Port del Cantó.

There, on the foothills of the latter climb and155 kilometres after the start, Brajkovic triumphed ahead of Golas, Cherel, Sorensen and the others.

The peloton came in several minutes back but because of the conditions, the race judges later decided that the general classification would not be changed. Michael Albasini (GreenEdge) therefore maintains his one minute 32 seconds advantage over Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Barracuda), Mickael Cherel (Ag2r La Mondiale), Steve Morabito (BMC Racing Team) and other key riders.

Those will all do what they can to try to fight for the race lead. However today was their best opportunity to do so, with less possibilities between now and the race finish on Sunday.


Volta a Catalunya (WorldTour) Stage 3 Result: La Vall d'en Bas (Sant Esteve d'en Bas) to Port del Canto:

1, Janez Brajkovic (Astana Pro Team)
2, Michal Golas (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
3, Mickael Cherel (Ag2R - La Mondiale)
4, Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
5, Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack - Nissan)
6, Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin - Barracuda)
7, Johann Tschopp (BMC Racing Team)
8, Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank Cycling Team)
9, Chris Anker Sorensen (Team Saxo Bank)
10, Romain Bardet (Ag2R - La Mondiale)

 


General classification yet to be communicated, but time differences unchanged from stage 2.

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