Cycling

Stage three win for Rodriguez

Joaquin Rodriguez (Getty Images)
Joaquin Rodriguez (Getty Images)

Madrid - Spaniard Joaquin 'Purito' Rodriguez claimed victory as the race favourites made their move on day three of the Tour of Catalonia.

The Katusha rider led home compatriot Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the 162.9km ride from Banyoles to La Molina in a time of 4hrs 50 mins 54 secs.

Victory also takes Rodriguez into the overall lead of the race ahead of Contador and Quintana, who are five and nine seconds behind respectively.

Tour de France winner Chris Froome was fifth on the day for Team Sky, which also moved him into fifth overall behind American Tejay van Garderen, 13 seconds off the time set by Rodriguez.

However, Froome was happy with how the day had gone having just returned from a back injury.

"I've come back after a long period of racing and I was really happy with today. Okay I didn't win the stage and I lost a bit of time in the final, but all things considered I'm really happy with my condition," he told TeamSky.com.

"Especially after taking a little bit of a break with my back problem, it's a really positive sign for me to be at the front of the race again.

"We came into the last 500 metres and it had been quite fast until then. It wasn't a very steep finish but it was more explosive. I thought 'If I'm going to try anything, it might as well be here.' I gave it a little push but the main contenders -- Rodriguez, Contador, Quintana and Tejay -- all followed my wheel and accelerated past me."

After Slovenian Luka Mezgec had taken victory on the opening two stages that favoured the sprinters, the race entered the mountains with a steep finish up to La Molina near the French border.

A group of six riders led for the majority of the stage, but were eventually swallowed up by the peloton with four kilometres left.

Froome was the first of the leaders to accelerate towards the finish, but he didn't have the legs to reach the line as Rodriguez timed his run perfectly to open up a slight advantage on his rivals in the general classification.

The riders also face a mountain finish in stage four on the 166.4km route from Alp to Vallter 2000-Setcases and Contador is expecting an even stiffer test on Thursday.

"The most important thing now is to recover well for tomorrow, which will be even more difficult," he said.

"Today it was a question of waiting on the attacks and the truth is Joaquin had an incredible burst that I couldn't live with in the final sprint."

Results from the second stage of the of the Tour of Catalonia on Tuesday, a 162.9km ride from Banyoles to La Molina:

1. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/Katusha) 4hr 50min 55sec
2. Alberto Contador (ESP/Tinkoff-Saxo) at 0:05
3. Nairo Quintana (COL/Movistar) 0:09
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA/BMC) 0:11
5. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:13
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/Ag2r) 0:14
7. Wilco Kelderman (NED/Belkin) s.t.
8. Andrew Talansky (USA/Garmin-Sharp) s.t.
9. Romain Bardet (FRA/Ag2r) s.t.
10. Ptzemyslaw Niemiec (POL/Lampre-Media) 0:20

Overall standings:
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/Katusha) 4hr 50min 55sec
2. Alberto Contador (ESP/Tinkoff-Saxo) at 0:05
3. Nairo Quintana (COL/Movistar) 0:09
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA/BMC) 0:11
5. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:13
6. Wilco Kelderman (NED/Belkin) 0:14
7. Andrew Talansky (USA/Garmin-Sharp) s.t.
8. Romain Bardet (FRA/Ag2r) s.t.
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/Ag2r) s.t.
10. Ptzemyslaw Niemiec (POL/Lampre-Media) 0:20

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