José Joaquin Rojas finally gets his stage in Catalunya at sixth attempt
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

José Joaquin Rojas finally gets his stage in Catalunya at sixth attempt

by Ben Atkins at 11:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Volta a Catalunya
Spanish sprinter gets to the top of the Catalan podium at last!

jose joaquin jojasJosé Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) finally took a victory in this year’s Volta a Catalunya, taking the sixth stage between Tarragona and Mollet del Valles at the head of a bunch sprint. The Spanish sprinter, who has taken two second, and two third, places in the previous five stages managed to get the better of the others at last. Stage 4 winner Manuel Cardoso (RadioShack) was beaten into second place at last by Rojas, with stage 5 winner Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) in third.

“It was high time for me to win, because what was happening to me wasn't normal," said Rojas after the finish. "Every single day, I was making some mistake that was stopping me from winning, but I never had doubts into myself because I knew I was the fastest.

“More than myself, I wanted to win for my teammates,” he continued, “who have worked their hearts out for me all week. If I was feeling depressed in some way these days, they were the ones who gave me morale, and this victory is for them.

“They were phenomenal today once again,” he explained. “First [Juan Mauricio] Soler, [Francisco] Iriarte and Fran Pérez, then [Luis] Pasamontes and [Imanol] Erviti in the finale. I told 'Pasa' to come into the last corner in first place, but Dumoulin got between us. Into the straight, when I came to my sprinting distance, I didn't think of it for a second and it all turned out good.

“It's the reward for being always there,” he added, “because if you take chances, you get the prize.”

Just like yesterday’s stage the first kilometres were ridden at an extremely fast pace; a breakaway, which included Vacansoleil’s Johnny Hoogerland, briefly got away after 41km but it was quickly neutralised by the speeding peloton.

Despite the rolling nature of the parcours, the opening hour was competed at an average of 47kph.

Finally, after 65km, Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) and John Darwin Atapuma (Colombia es passion-Café de Colombia) escaped. Within 10km the trio had opened a gap of 3’15” but, with Mollema just 1’12” behind race leader Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard), its lead was not allowed to grow too big.

Mollema allowed the other two to ride away, drifting back to the peloton, and Sivtsov and Atapuma were able to increase their lead. After 110km the break’s advantage was up to 4’15” but then began to come down as the Saxo Bank-SunGard team began to chase it down.

Over the course of the next 40km Saxo Bank-SunGard steadily chiselled a minute off the duo’s lead; the only incident of note being the abandon of the race of Danilo Di Luca (Katusha).

After 151km though, with just 44km to go, Peter Stetina (Garmin-Cervélo) attacked and tried to bridge across the 3 minute gap to the two leaders. The American was only able to get a few seconds clear though, and was retaken after being away for just 15km.

With 20km to go the Movistar team took control of the peloton, on behalf of Rojas, and the gap to the tow leaders began to fall much quicker. In the space of just 5km the duo’s 2-minute advantage was cut to just 35 seconds; the two fugitives were finally pulled back with 10km to go.

With 8km to go the Lampre-ISD team moved forward with Caja Rural; a few kilometres later they were joined by Cofidis, out to get a second successive win for Dumoulin.

As the race passed under the flamme rouge, with just 1km to go, though, Movistar took over once more and delivered Rojas to the line to take his first win of the race after four podium finishes.

Contador finished safely in the peloton once more and holds on to the white and green jersey heading into tomorrow’s final stage.

Result stage 5
1. José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
2. Manuel Cardoso (Por) RadioShack
3. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervélo
5. Diego Milán (Spa) Caja Rural
6. Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-ISD
7. Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
9. Remy Cusin (Fra) Cofidis
10. Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil

Standings after stage 5
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-SunGard
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack @ 23s
3. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervélo @ 35s
5. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack


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