Explosive Final Climb on Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 321. March 2018, Camprodon (ESP) — Road Team
The third day of racing at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya proved to be a day for the breakaway with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) taking a solo stage win ahead of a heavily reduced main bunch that fought hard on a tough final climb up to the line.
Due to winter weather conditions at Vallter 2000, the stage was shortened from 199.2km to 153.2km with the final three climbs, including the summit finish, removed and replaced with the category 2 Port de Collabós and a steady uphill drag to the finish line in Camprodon.
It was a nervous start to the day with the peloton pulling back several attacks over the opening 10km of racing before five riders were allowed to go clear and form the day’s breakaway.
However, in anticipation of the battle to come, the peloton kept tight control of the race and never allowed the leaders’ advantage to extend beyond three minutes.
The breakaway split heading up the Coll de Bracons with Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) the solo leader going over the top with just over 50km to go before Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi-Murias) and Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) made contact on the descent.
As the road began to level out in the lead up to the final climb the front group was sitting 1’30” ahead of the main bunch which was being led by race leader at the start of the day, Alejandro Valverde’s Movistar Team.
De Gendt went on the attack again on the early slopes of the climb and was able to push his lead out to over two minutes as BMC Racing Team moved up to the front of the peloton to keep Tejay van Garderen well-positioned in the final kilometers.
The bunch was strung out in single file with 15km to go and as riders were dropping off the back another group of four, which was made up of Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT), Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Matthias Frank (AG2R La Mondiale), went on the attack.
Heading into the final 5km, De Gendt was sitting 30 seconds ahead of the chasers and looked poised to take the win while, the heavily reduced main bunch including van Garderen, Nicolas Roche and Brent Bookwalter was another 20 seconds back.
In the end, the chase group was caught by the peloton in the closing meters of the race with riders sprinting for the minor places 20 seconds behind De Gendt, who not only took the stage win but also inherited the leader’s jersey.
Van Garderen finished safely in the first part of the peloton heading into another tough stage tomorrow with a mountaintop finish in La Molina.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Tejay van Garderen:
“I am definitely starting to feel the fatigue a little bit after a couple of hard days and especially with the cold today. The team did really well and we stayed up there. It would have been nice to try and go with those four guys on the final climb and be more aggressive but I think I still have to get back into that race rhythm and get the body back into fighting form.”
“I think tomorrow will definitely be the biggest test in terms of the GC assuming that we do it. I don’t think we should have a problem getting to La Molina but I think the climb before might be a question mark. Overall though I think we’re set to have a good day tomorrow.”
Sports Director, Valerio Piva:
“Today, I expected a little bit more attacking but there was a strong headwind again. Movistar Team let the breakaway go and controlled the gap but with a guy like Thomas De Gent (Lotto-Soudal) in there, I thought that they would have a chance of going all the way. He was very strong to survive in the final.”
“Behind, Movistar Team and Mitchelton-SCOTT were controlling the race and there was an explosion in the bunch. Tejay was able to stay with the best 20 riders and Nicolas Roche and Brent Bookwalter came back in the closing kilometers too. In the end, it was difficult to try something on a stage like this but I think the guys worked well together throughout the day.”
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Stage 3: Sant Cugat del Vallès > Camprodon, 153.2km
Top 3: 1. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 2. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3. Silvio Herklotz (Burgos-BH)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 38. Nicolas Roche 41. Brent Bookwalter 45. Tejay van Garderen