Volta a Catalunya: Nairo Quintana attacks to stage three victory on Vallter 2000
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Volta a Catalunya: Nairo Quintana attacks to stage three victory on Vallter 2000

by Ben Atkins at 12:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Volta a Catalunya
 
Alejandro Valverde takes over the race lead on a double day for Movistar

nairo quintana

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) took the third stage of the 2013 Volta a Catalunya, on the 2200 metre high summit of Vallter 2000, with a blistering attack in the final half kilometre. Having followed an acceleration from Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) under the final kilometre banner, the Colombian put in a move that nobody was able to follow with less than 500 metres to go, and managed to pull out a winning lead on the way to the line.

Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) attacked at the same time as Quintana, but was left behind by the Colombian’s pace on the final steep hairpins. The Catalan rider could only pull Quintana’s Movistar captain Alejandro Valverde up to the line, where the Murcian took the sprint for second place six seconds behind the winner.

“There was a strong headwind at the top of the climb and our strategy was to wait for the very last moment to attack,” he explained. “The attack by Wiggins took the speed up and it was really good for us to know the climb, since we knew that the hardest point came at the end of it. I saw a good moment to attack and it was just when Purito [Rodríguez - ed] made his move, but I didn't see him because I jumped earlier, as soon as I saw the turn where I had thought of attacking.

“I had good legs and could keep the speed until the end,” he added. “Having Alejandro at your side makes you more calm, but not only yourself, also the entire squad. There was a strong cooperation between all of us in these days.”

The attack of the day came from Swiss champion Martin Kohler (BMC Racing), Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Cannondale), Karol Domagalski (Caja Rural) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), who got away after just seven kilometres and managed to open a maximum lead of 7’30”.

Gradually the front foursome was reeled in by the peloton and, as the final climb began, Edet and Domagalski left Kohler and Haedo behind; onto the steeper slopes with 11km to go, Edet set off alone, but the peloton was beginning to accelerate behind him.

With Edet less than a minute ahead with five kilometres to go Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) attacked and passed the Frenchman, but he was pulled back with two kilometres to go. Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) then got away, but he too was pulled back before the final kilometre by Team Sky, with Wiggins putting in a powerful acceleration that split the pack of favourites.

Into the final few hundred metres though, it was Quintana who managed to finally escape the group with a fierce attack, which he managed to sustain all the way to the line. Valverde managed to follow the wheel of Rodríguez, then outsprint the Katusha rider on the line, with Wiggins right behind them.

With Quintana not among the riders in the stage one breakaway that took 28 seconds on the rest of the peloton, it was Valverde that took over the white and green leader’s jersey from double stage-winner Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), six seconds ahead of Rodríguez, and ten ahead of Wiggins.

“It was a pity that I missed the cut on day one, but we have Alejandro at the front and will fight for the overall win,” said Quintana. “I know the final climb of tomorrow's stage too, since I did a recon last year, though that stage was shortened. Let's hope the legs stay as good as today. This victory is for my family and all the team: not only my team-mates, but also the sports directors and staff that make all this possible."

The toughest stage so far and nobody wants to chase the break too soon

At 180.1km, the third stage between Vidreres and the snow-covered summit of Vallter 2000 was the longest of the race so far and, with two 1st category climbs on the way to the ‘especial’ category finish, it was by far the toughest.

Kohler, Haedo Domagalski and Edet escaped after just seven kilometres and, after just 20km, had opened up a lead of 7’30”. This had dropped to 7’15” as Haedo led the quartet through the intermediate sprint, in Vidreres after 31km, and was down to 6’15” as it began the climb to the 1st category Alto de Sant Hilari after 55km.

At the top of the climb the gap was down to 5’05”, but the peloton was in no hurry to pull back the quartet. On the 1st category climb to the entrance to the Túnel Collabós, Edet and Domagalski left Kohler and Haedo behind and, over the top after 146km - with 34km to go - the duo was still 5’10” as the peloton began to come to life.

Gradually the gap to the two leaders began to come down, with the second pair gradually drifting backwards towards the peloton. As the climb began to get steeper with 11km to go, Edet set off alone, leaving Domagalski behind.

With nine kilometres to go, with Movistar leading the chase, the peloton caught up with Kohler and Haedo. Edet was still 2’16” clear, however, and still climbing smoothly, with Domagalski in between; the Caja Rural rider was picked up shortly afterwards, however, leaving just one rider up the road.

Blanco was the next team to take up the pace, with seven kilometres to go, and cut Edet’s lead to just 1’30”. The Frenchman was beginning to struggle on the steeper sections of the climb, and his advantage was beginning to fall more quickly.

Jurgen Van Den Broeck becomes the first big name to attack

With five kilometres 45 seconds as snow began to appear at the side of the road, as Marcos Garcia (Caja Rural) attacked. He was chased by Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol), but the Belgian was pulled back by Robert Gesink (Blanco), and the rest of the main group followed.

Van Den Broeck jumped away again, however, and soon bridged across the Edet up ahead. Team Sky then took control of the chasing group, with Peter Kennaugh leading Bradley Wiggins, as Edet did his best to hold on to Van Den Broeck’s wheel up ahead; shortly after the four kilometre banner, however, the Frenchman was forced to sit up.

Rigoberto Urán joined the Team Sky train at the front of the peloton and began to close down the lone Belgian but, with just over two kilometres to go, Garmin-Sharp and Katusha took over the chase and pulled him back. As the race came back together Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) attacked and managed to get a few seconds clear.

Katusha steadily reeled the American rider back but, as he was caught at the final kilometre banner Wiggins attacked. Quintana and Pinot were tucked in behind the Tour de France champion’s wheel, with several others making it across to them, but several more riders were dropped off the back of the group.

With 400 metres to go Quintana and Rodríguez attacked simultaneously, but it was the Colombian rider that managed to get clear, and he sprinted around the final hairpins to take the stage victory. Valverde tucked himself behind Rodríguez’ wheel, and managed to come around to take second place from the Catalan rider, with Wiggins right beside him in fourth.

Result stage 3
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team @ 6s
3. Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team
4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ @ 9s
6. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp
7. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
9. Rigobert Urán (Col) Team Sky
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 21s

Standings after stage 3
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
2. Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team @ 6s
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky @ 10s
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida @ 13s
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team @ 22s
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 36s
8. David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky
9. Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
10. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp @ 41s

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