Martin emulates Kelly, beats Rodriguez to take final overall victory in Volta A Catalunya
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Martin emulates Kelly, beats Rodriguez to take final overall victory in Volta A Catalunya

by Shane Stokes at 12:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Volta a Catalunya
Katusha rider unable to shake off Garmin-Sharp rival on Montjuic finishing circuit

Dan MartinSealing the biggest stage race victory of his career with a calm, determined defence of his leader’s jersey, Dan Martin became the second-ever Irish winner of the Volta a Catalunya when he and his team controlled the attacks of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and his other rivals today.

The 26 year old Garmin Sharp rider finished in the main bunch at the end of eight tough ascents of the Montjuic climb in Barcelona, maintaining his overnight seventeen second advantage over Rodriguez. In beating the 2012 WorldTour champion, he emulated the Catalunya successes of Sean Kelly in 1984 and 1986.

“It's been a really nervous couple of days,” he said afterwards. “The team did a great job defending. Yesterday we had a 52 kilometres per hour average and today was very hard too. I was lucky, though, I had really good legs and I could cover all the moves.”

The stage was won by the Belgian Thomas De Gendt, who was quickest out of a four man breakaway. The Vacansoleil rider beat David Lopez (Sky) and Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack Leopard) to the line, with Michele Scarponi (Lampre Merida) helping drive the break along in search of the overall win, and netting fourth.

Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale) led in the chasing group some 21 seconds later; Martin rolled in as part of the group to win the race, while Scarponi jumped above Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) into third overall.

Rodriguez had tried to get clear of Martin on several occasions and unleashed an all-out attack on the final ascent of Montjuic, but his rival stuck to his wheel like a limpet and the chance was lost.

The Irishman previously won the overall classification in a WorldTour race in 2010, taking the Tour of Poland, but the prestige and race lineup in this Volta a Catalunya is considerably bigger.

“I can’t describe how happy I am,” he said. “It has given me a massive confidence boost. The guy who was second today was the number one rider in the world, and Bradley Wiggins was also behind. The race is the who’s who of cycling and I came out on top. It has given me a huge confidence boost going into the rest of the season.”

De Gendt also took a big morale boost as a result of his success today. He has had a quiet start to the year but the stage victory gets the ball rolling and shows he is on track. “I knew I was the fastest and was happy to show that,” he said. “Winning is good for the confidence.”

How it played out:

The final stage of the Volta a Catalunya started steady and finished with a shark’s tooth profile, with the third category Alt de La Maladona (km 35.7) the only climb in the first half of the 122.2 kilometre leg to Barcelona.

Later on, the riders faced eight ascents of the Alt de Montjuic, with those climbs starting 74.5 kilometres after the start and then repeating just over every six kilometres.

151 riders took to the start and ten riders got clear early on. The intermediate sprint at Vilanova I la Geltrú went to Karol Domaglaski (Caja Rural), with Karsten Kroon (Team Saxo Tinkoff) and Michal Golas (Omega Pharma Quick Step) second and third.

The others in the move were Astana’s Andrey Kashechkin, Lawrence Warbasse (BMC Racing Team), Tiziano Dall’Antonia (Cannondale), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel Euskadi), Jurgen Van de Walle (Lotto Belisol), Thomas Damuseau (Argos Shimano) and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil DCM).

Damuseau led Kashechkin, Kroon, Keizer and the others over the Alto de la Maladona, where the break was three minutes twenty seconds ahead of the bunch. Rodriguez’s Katusha team was driving the pace behind, both to limit the gains of the break to stop it mopping up the bonus seconds that Rodriguez may have needed later, and also to try to put pressure on Martin and his Garmin-Sharp squad.

Domagalski led the break through the intermediate sprint at Casteldefells (km 45.8), with Van de Walle and Oroz second and third, after which the break raced onto the finishing circuit and scaled Montjuic for the first time. Oroz and Kashechkin led the others over the summit, and crossing the finish line with 44 kilometres remaining, the leaders had one minute 45 seconds.

Keizer and Oroz took the primes on the next two ascents, by which time the break’s lead had dropped under a minute. It continued losing time and the break was finally caught 22 kilometres from the finish.

The final battle rages on Montjuic:

David Garcia Lopez (Sky) and Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil DCM) attacked right away and were joined by Nicki Sorensen (Team Saxo Tinkoff) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol), but Sorensen would soon lose contact. Behind, nineteen kilometres from the finish, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked in a bid to move up from his third place overall.

He was too dangerous to let go and was hauled back soon afterwards. The three leaders pushed onwards and with sixteen kilometres to go, had a twenty second lead. Soon afterwards Michele Scarponi (Lampre Merida) and Robert Kiserlowski (RadioShack Leopard) attacked the peloton and managed to bridge across; Scarponi’s presence was a threat to Martin, as he had started the day fifth overall, 55 seconds down.

This prompted 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal to drive the pace behind, leading the bunch across the finish line and working hard to limit the time gains of Scarponi.

The Italian was persistent and drove the pace, knowing he had to eke out as big a lead as possible. Behind, Martin and Rodriguez were marking each other rather than thinking too much of the Lampre Merida rider. Going over the line for the bell and the start of the final lap, the gap was under thirty seconds and so the danger was being contained. However the time bonus for the stage winner meant that Scarponi – if he won – wouldn’t need to finish a full 55 seconds ahead of the race leader.

The Lampre Merida rider knew that even if he didn’t gain enough time to seize the jersey, the podium was possible and thus dragged the break along inside the final five kilometres. Back in the peloton, further attacks came and Quintana surged clear again. However he didn’t get very far, with further surges from the Martin group bringing his effort to an end.

For those out front, it was looking increasingly likely that they could stay clear until the finish. Lopez attacked with four kilometres to go, deciding to play his card then and chase the stage win. Meanwhile the GC battle was playing out behind, with Rodriguez’s Katusha team-mate Dani Moreno jumping and catching two riders who were a little ahead of the peloton.

Rodriguez bridged across with Martin on his wheel, then made his move inside the final four kilometres. He floored it going over the top of the climb, but Martin didn’t give him an inch. He remained glued to his back wheel and looked to be well in control.

His first cousin Nicolas Roche (Team Saxo Tinkoff) surged soon afterwards, attacking with 1.8 kilometres remaining and trying to get across to the Scarponi group. However they were moving too quickly and managed to reel in Lopez inside the final kilometre.

Scarponi continued to push towards the line, fighting for every second. De Gendt sat on his wheel, waiting for the sprint, and opened it up with 200 metres to go. Lopez and Kiserlowski tried to come back at him but he had little problems in taking the win.

All eyes were on the clock, but as the Martin group thundered in towards the line and mopped up Roche, it was clear that Scarponi had not gained enough time. That reduced peloton rolled in 21 seconds back, handing Martin the biggest win of his career and ending a 27 year gap since the last Irish winner, Sean Kelly.

Volta a Catalunya, Spain (WorldTour)

Stage 7: El Vendrell to Barcelona (Montjuïc circuit):

1, Tomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) 122.2 kilometres in 2 hours 45 mins 42 secs
2, David López (Sky)
3, Robert Kiserlowski (RadioShack Leopard)
4, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida)
5, Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale) at 21 secs
6, Julien Simon (Sojasun)
7, Manuele Mori (Lampre Merida)
8, Travis Meyer (Orica GreenEdge)
9, Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma Quick Step)
10, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) all same time

Final overall classification:

1, Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) 29 hours 2 mins 25 secs
2, Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha) at 17 secs
3, Michele Scarponi (Lampre Merida) at 34 secs
4, Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Movistar Team) at 45 secs
5, Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) at 54 secs
6, Robert Gesink (Blanco Pro Cycling Team) at 1 min 7 secs
7, Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre Merida) at 1 min 18 secs
8, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) at 1 min 26 secs
9, Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) at 1 min 28 secs
10, Tom Danielson (Garmin Sharp) at 1 min 41 secs
11, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) at 1 min 58 secs
12, Steve Morabito (BMC Racing Team) at 2 mins 9 secs
13, Simon Spilak (Katusha) at 2 mins 12 secs
14, Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 2 mins 42 secs
15, Egor Silin (Astana Pro Team) at 2 mins 51 secs


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