On the first summit finish of the 2014 Vuelta a España, as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was setting a tempo that was eliminating riders with GC aspirations in the final kilometre of the the climb to La Zubia, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) took a deep breath in the asphyxiating heat and attacked off the front of the small group that was left.
"It was a very hot day," Rodriguez said of the weather which is making the Ice Bucket Challenge a welcome invitation. "The team did great job for me today. In general I didn't feel bad during the day and I like climbs like this. But in the final climb I suffered a little from the heat.
Despite another day of hot weather, Rodriguez added that perhaps he could have timed his attack better but was happy to have test his legs nevertheless.
"I tried to attack with 600 meters to go, but could not get enough gap," he said. "Maybe I had to go a little bit later, but in that moment I felt good and I decided to try. So it was first test in the mountains. Hopefully the next days will not be as hot."
Rodriguez had been eyeing the conclusion of the 167.7km stage, which started in Benalmádena, as the first opportunity to test his rivals for the overall victory with the 4.6km climb to La Zubia certain to show who was in form and who was bluffing.
As Rodriguez faded after his final-kilometre attack, it was Valverde who coasted past him with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) for company but the Movistar rider held on to claim stage honours and move back into the leader's red jersey which he held on stage 3.
Rodriguez crossed the line in fifth place, eight seconds down on his major rivals and now sits sixth overall on GC with a 45 second deficient to Valverde.
The team's sports director José Azevedo was pleased with what he saw and with seven more summit finishes to come, is confident that there will be more attacks by Rodriguez
"I think it was good test for us in the first mountain stage," said Azevedo. "We knew today's stage would suit "Purito" so the whole team worked well for him. With 40 km to go we went in front to pull the peloton to control the race and to chase the break.
"Closer to the finish we moved in front with "Purito" to provide him a good position among the leaders. He attacked with 500-600 meters and it was a very strong attack, but finally we did not win. Anyway it was important day for us and more to come."
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