Joaquim “Purito” Rodríguez of Team Katusha maintained a narrow lead in yesterday’s final stage of the 94th Volta Ciclista a Cataluya to take the overall ranking for the second time in his career, following victory in 2010. Just one week after Kristoff’s emphatic win in Milan-Sanremo, Katusha once again came away from the weekend with a big haul of points for the UCI WorldTour rankings. The weeklong stage race takes place on Purito’s home turf and attracted a stellar field with several grand tour favourites, such as Chris Froome and Alberto Contador taking the start but unable to better the local favourite over the mountainous route.
Climbing High to GC Success
The foundations for overall victory were laid on the stage 3 mountaintop finish to La Molina. Rodríguez proved once again that he is one of the best in the world when it comes to steep uphill finishes by sprinting away on his Aeroad CF within the snow-lined final kilometre to gain vital seconds on the rest of his GC rivals. The stage marked Purito’s first win of the 2014 season and put him in the race leader’s jersey.
Over the following stages Katusha controlled the race well to defend Purito’s slender lead against the inevitable attacks from Contador, who lay just 4 seconds behind on GC. Katusha Directeur Sportif, Dmitry Konyshev, was pleased with the outcome of the race: “This WorldTour win is important for the team and for Joaquim too because he’s Catalan.”
Rodríguez now looks in great shape for his major 2014 objectives: “Now I look forward to trying to win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and then on to the Giro d’Italia.”
Quintana 5th for Movistar Team
Columbia’s Nairo Quintana was the second Canyon pro to feature at the sharp end of the GC, only ten seconds down on Rodríguez, highlighting just what a close fought race the 2014 edition of the Volta a Catalunya was. Quintana is also looking to build his form ahead of the Giro d’Italia in May, and seems to be on the right track after this week and his 2nd place at Tirreno-Adriatico