Froome distanced on Alt dels Angels
Team Sky’s Chris Froome, who came into the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya as one of the two main race favourites alongside Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), was distanced from a select group of climbers on the stage 3 final climb on Wednesday. The Briton was a part of a 40-rider group at the start of the climb up the Alt dels Angels but fell off the pace as his teammate Richie Porte drove on ahead with a select group ahead of the finish line in Girona.
Porte was one of seven including stage winner Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Contador, Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep), Daniel Martin and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) and Fabio Aru (Astana) to make the successful breakaway.
Froome crossed the line 22 seconds back in 30th place. He now sits in 28th place overall and 2:46 minute behind the overall race leader Pierre Rolland (Europcar), while Contador has jumped up to seventh and Porte eighth overall, both 2:27 behind. Pozzovivo’s stage win had bumped him up into fourth overall, 2:14 behind Rolland.
The Volta a Catalunya continues on Thursday with stage 4’s 188.4km from Tona to La Molina.
Contador takes back time on stage 3 climb
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is slowly taking back time in the overall classification at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, reeling in another handful of seconds on stage 3’s final climb Alt dels Angels on Wednesday.
Contador and many of the other overall favourites, including Chris Froome (Team Sky) lost 2:40 minutes on stage 1 after a three-man breakaway succeeded to the finish line. Those riders included the current overall race leader Pierre Rolland (Europcar), stage 1 winner and second overall Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) and third placed overall Bart de Clerq (Lotto-Soudal).
At the end of the stage, Contador was one of seven riders to gain time on the climb. He finished fourth on the day and jumped from 19th overall and 2:50 back to seventh overall and 2:27 back.
“We gave the maximum we had on the flat parts of the stage, on the climbs as well as the descents. At the end, a small group reached the finish and I don't think there was anything more one could ask from us. There wasn't anything more either that we could have done. I'm happy because the feeling I have is quite good, the team is in good shape and taking into consideration this is the last race before the Giro, it is good to try something,” Contador praised his teammates for their hard work following the race.
“This wasn't one of the toughest stages of the Volta a Catalunya but the team did an extraordinary job from the top of the first mountain pass. They rode as hard as they could in order to try to create the possibility to fight for GC victory after the breakaway of the first day.”
Contador noted that he will look to the stage 4 ascent on La Molina for opportunities to bring back more time in the overall classification.
Crash knocks van Garderen from GC contention
Tejay van Garderen’s chances for a top general classification result at the Volta a Catalunya ended Wednesday during stage 3 when the BMC team leader crashed over a guardrail on a descent about 35km from the finish in Girona.
Van Garderen was not seriously injured in the multiple-rider crash, but he took took several minutes to get going again at a time when Tinkoff-Saxo was setting a peloton-withering pace at the front. Van Garderen eventually finished 148th on the day, nearly 16 minutes behind winner Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale).
“That was the most horrifying moment of my career,” van Garderen Tweeted after the race. “Over the guardrail and into the bushes. Nothing broken, hope everyone else is ok.”
Team director Yvon Ledanois said van Garderen knows the general classification is now finished for him.
"He is disappointed for the team and I am disappointed for him because he has good legs to get a result," Ledanois said. "I am sure that without his crash today he would have been in the front group."
Uran disappointed after losing out on stage win
Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) finished second on Wednesday during stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya and moved into fifth overall, but the Colombian rider said he had pinned his hopes on a stage win after also finishing second during stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Uran escaped on the final climb of the day with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R - La Mondiale), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Richie Porte (Team Sky). Cannondale-Garmin teammates Daniel Martin and Andrew Talansky bridged to the group on the descent.
The seven riders were approaching the finish together in Girona when Pozzovivo jumped away with 2km remaining and held off the others to take the win. Uran beat Martin for the runner-up spot three seconds later.
"I was positioning myself in preparation to win the stage, but when Pozzovivo attacked no one wanted to react,” Uran said. “After Martin and Talansky, two teammates, came back to the group we were focused on the tactics. Everyone was there looking at each other and Pozzovivo took advantage to win the race.”
Uran’s result moved him from 20th overall to fifth, 2:21 behind race leader Pierre Rolland (Europcar).
“Considering the overall classification, I am happy because on the climb I responded to the attacks from riders like Contador and Porte, and I felt good,” Uran said. “I am happy about my performance and my feeling in the mountains.”
Uran will get another chance to test his legs in the mountains during stage 4’s 188.4km run from Tona to the summit finish in La Molina, a category 1 climb.
“Tomorrow is probably the hardest stage with an uphill finish,” Uran said. “It’s a difficult stage, and we will see what can happen tomorrow. Of course I have a good team around me, so we will do the best we can to defend our GC position and maybe try to do something more for the stage.”