After having withdrawn early from Paris-Nice, Tejay van Garderen had entered the Volta a Catalunya a bit uncertain about his condition. Today he got a great morale boost when he beat Chris Froome to finish 4th in the first big mountain stage.
BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen climbed his way into the top five in the overall standings at the Volta a Catalunya with fourth place on Wednesday's mountain-top finish. The first of two consecutive mountain-top finishes traveled 162.9 kilometers from Banyoles to La Molina.
Six riders built a nine-minute advantage after 50 km. Strong winds over the top of the day's highest climb – the Alt de La Creueta – and cold temperatures helped the escapees maintain a two-minute advantage entering the final 20 km. The last of the breakaway riders, Team Europcar's Kévin Reza, was caught with 5 km to go.
Joaquin Rodriguez (Team Katusha) countered an attack by Christopher Froome (Team Sky) inside the final 500 meters and soloed to win the stage by five seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) was third, nine seconds after Rodriguez, while van Garderen arrived two seconds later.
Rodriguez took the overall lead with four stages to go, five seconds ahead of Contador, nine in front of Quintana and 11 ahead of van Garderen.
"We got a little bit lucky with the weather," van Garderen said. "We were expecting much worse. It definitely got really cold out there in the second part of the stage. All in all, we were really lucky.
"The legs felt good. I usually respond pretty well to the cold weather. I think a lot of guys were suffering because of it. To be up there, on a hard summit finish, in the middle of the names I finished with, is a good morale boost."
"It was a great job by Tejay today," sports director Yvon Ledanois said. "I am happy. It builds confidence for tomorrow and it is an important result for him because he did not do Paris-Nice. It is also good morale for the team."
You can read our preview of the fourth stage here and follow our live coverage at 15.15 CET on CyclingQuotes.com/live.
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