With just one day's racing to go in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, up-and-coming French rider Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) is lying ninth overall at 42 seconds to race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and looks to be well on track for what will be his first ever top 10 overall result in a WorldTour stage race. But that's not the only reason Barguil can come away satisfied with this year's Volta a Catalunya.
Still only a second year pro, Barguil was nonetheless able to attempt a breakaway on the race's toughest stage to Vallter 2000, storming away on the final climb. That was despite the high pace laid down by Sky's David Lopez at the front of the shrinking pack, although Barguil's strong ride was unfortunately impossible for fans to see because the rough weather destroyed any chance of TV coverage.
It was another promising result for the young Frenchman, already the winner of two stages in the Vuelta a España, including one in the Pyrenees at another Spanish ski station, Formigal, when he outgunned fellow breakaway rider Rigoberto Urán.
Discussing his ride to Vallter 2000, Barguil told Cyclingnews, "I had had a puncture on the previous climb and a teammate gave me a wheel, but that wheel change came just at a point when the peloton was accelerating and I had to spend a fair bit of energy trying to get back into the race.
"Then on the last mountain, people starting looking at each other and I took advantage of that to move away, maybe 10 kilometres from the summit."
He had seen the climb on TV when watching the previous year's Volta, he said, "but with the fog and the bad weather there were almost no real reference points."
"David Lopez (Sky) brought the peloton back up to me, but again with three kilometres to go, I saw that he needed to catch his breath because he'd done so much work before and at that point I attacked, and gave it everything I could.
"Then with about one and a half kilometres to go, I got caught by Chris Froome (Sky) and I just gave it everything to try and get to the line. I was pretty satisfied but I think without that puncture and the energy I used up there I could maybe have done a bit better."
Either way despite missing out on a stage win, the Giant-Shimano rider says he is nonetheless very pleased with his overall performance given the quality of his opponents. After Catalunya, the Frenchman will now go on to the Vuelta al País Vasco - where he will cross swords with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) again - and then ride both Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège to complete his first part of the season.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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