Van Garderen Maintains Overall Lead After Snows Shortens Stage 423. March 2017, Igualada (ESP) — Road Team
Snow and freezing temperatures saw Volta Ciclista a Catalunya stage 4 shortened with the race starting at KM 60, of the previously planned 184.3km stage, and Tejay van Garderen finishing safely in the bunch behind stage winner Nacer Bouhanni (Team Cofidis) to retain his leader’s jersey.
Having relocated from the planned start town of Llívia, in the Pyrenees, to Montferrer, the race eventually got underway with the peloton setting a fast pace and chasing down any early breakaway attempts as they headed down the valley.
Eventually, after almost 40km of racing, a group of five riders was able to escape off the front of the peloton and quickly extend an advantage of 3’10”. However, the peloton, being led by BMC Racing Team, kept the breakaway under control, cutting the gap to around 2’40” as they went over the top of the Alt del Pubill.
With the second categorized climb of the day coming at just 20km to go, the chase began to heat up as teams battled for position in the peloton heading onto the slopes of Turo del Puig before reeling in the final breakaway rider with 18km remaining.
Fireworks soon followed with attack after attack going over the summit of the category two climb and four riders forcing a reaction from the bunch behind as they opened up an advantage on the final descent into Igualada.
With a bunch sprint up for grabs, the sprinters' teams, alongside BMC Racing Team, pushed hard to bring the race back together with Bouhanni the fastest on the day.
Van Garderen finished safely in the bunch behind Bouhanni to maintain his overall lead on the General Classification, 41 seconds ahead of his BMC Racing Team teammate, Samuel Sánchez.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Tejay van Garderen:
"I think today went really well for us. We were about to start in a snow storm, but they made a good call to move us down the valley. It shortened the stage obviously, but it also kept everyone safe and dry. It was a relatively easier day today before a hectic final climb and descent to the finish, but I think we managed it well."
"I feel really good going into tomorrow's stage. I'm confident in the team and myself. It will be a hard climb, and certainly, anything can happen. Wearing the leader's jersey always adds motivation. It gives you an extra gear or 20 extra watts so, hopefully, I can get to the base of the climb in a good position and then from there I just need to give it my best. That's all I can ask for."
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
"I think having the first 58km taken off today's stage potentially changed the outcome of the race slightly. Over the first hour, with 90km of downhill at the start of the stage, we would have seen a lot of cold and wet guys fighting hard to close any gaps and control the race. So, I don't think as many people would have passed the final climb but other than that I don't think it would have changed the overall General Classification."
"When the final group of riders got away on the last descent we were a little nervous. It was a good group, and at that point, it was difficult to organize a chase. However, the speed behind them was so high with a lot of teams looking for a sprint and ultimately controlling the gap. It was a good try on their part, but for us, it was nice to see that the sprinters took the bonuses and that we stayed safe and finished on the same time."
"Tomorrow is potentially the biggest stage of the race and will be an important day for the General Classification. Tejay van Garderen is looking solid, and Brent Bookwalter and Samuel Sánchez had good rides today as well. If we have a good climb tomorrow I think it will put us in a really strong position but it's not easy on Saturday and Sunday so, nothing is certain."
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Stage 4: Montferrer > Igualada, 134.3km
Top 3: 1. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Cofidis) 2. Davide Cimolai (FDJ) 3. Daryl Impey (Orica-Scott)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 28. Brent Bookwalter 30. Samuel Sánchez 33. Tejay van Garderen