Despite the rain and wet roads on the final day of racing in Catalunya, the leading Russian team Katusha let nothing deter them from the purpose of the day: to deliver Joaquim Rodriguez to the finish line as the winner of the 94th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Mission accomplished.
A happy Joaquim Rodriguez was content with this victory, saying, “This victory is important to me. It was a big race in Spain and also a WorldTour race. Now two weeks in a row we win in the WorldTour,” he said, referring to last week’s win by Alexander Kristoff in Milano-Sanremo. “Also this was a real race, especially when you saw Alberto Contador trying all the way to the end to gain the four seconds he needed. You saw the real Contador who always fights for victory. This race was especially hard with all the wind and the rain, but that’s what makes bike racing exciting. Otherwise there is nothing to organize.”
General manager Viacheslav Ekimov had high praise for his riders: “To ‘Purito’ I want to send many congratulations and to say that I hope he feels well-prepared for the upcoming Ardennes classics. We believe he can show us something there, too. This is a WorldTour win and we all dream to have these wins and we’ve kept our fingers crossed that these things would happen for the Russian Global Cycling Project. Katusha Team is at such a high level on our morale right now. We’ll try to maintain this momentum for the classics in Belgium.”
A late attack from Alberto Contador was quickly brought back by Rodriguez, keeping the general classification status quo with fellow Spaniard Contador in second at four-seconds and American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) rounding out the podium in third. With the win, Joaquim Rodriguez moves into fifth place on the UCI WorldTour.
Sports director Dmitry Konyshev added: “This WorldTour win is important for the team and for Joaquim too because he’s Catalan. One more time we’ve showed everyone that Katusha is a great team because we strive to work together. Today the team worked together perfectly. We let the breakaway go so there would be no time bonuses and they did a good job. Purito caught Contador’s last attack and was right there in the front for the sprint. He was perfect.”
After an initial 71 km on the open roads, the final stage included 8 local laps over the Alt de Montjuïc climb in the Barcelona area. Because of the wet roads, the laps were shortened from 6.2 km to 5km to ensure rider safety on the descents. Astana’s Lieuwe Westra attacked in the closing laps to claim a solo victory at 1:22 to Marcus Burghardt (BMC) and Thomas Voeckler of Europcar after two-and-a-half hours of racing. Rodriguez sprinted in with the GC favorites to take tenth on stage 7 at 2:07.
Rodriguez concluded: “I want to thank the organizers for taking away the dangerous part of the circuit and for thinking of the well-being of the riders. Now I look forward to trying to win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and then on to the Giro d’Italia.
Result of the seventh stage of the Tour of
Catalonia, a 120.7km ride around Barcelona on Sunday:
1. Lieuwe Westra (NED/AST) 2hr 36min 14sec, 2. Marcus Burghardt (GER/BMC)
at 1min 22sec, 3. Thomas Voeckler (BEL/OPQ) s.t., 4. Maciej Paterski (POL/CCC)
1min 26sec, 5. Yoann Bagot (FRA/COF) 1min 36 sec, 6. Jan Polanc (SLO/LAM) 2min
07sec, 7. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) s.t., 8. Romain Badet (FRA/AG2) s.t., 9.
Arnold Jeannesson (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 10. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) s.t.
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 29hr 37min 34sec, 2. Alberto Contador
(ESP/TIN) at 0:04sec, 3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 0:07, 4. Romain Bardet
(FRA/ALM) 0:10, 5. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:10, 6. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY)
0:17, 7. Andrew Talansky (USA/GRM) 0:18, 8. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 0:26,
9. Warren Barguil (FRA/GIA) 0:42, 10. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/RSH) 0:48