Bradley Wiggins third in Volta a Catalunya as Nairo Quintana wins stage three
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: March 20, 2013 7:19pm
Sir Bradley Wiggins moved up to third overall at the Volta a Catalunya after initiating a thrilling finale to stage three's summit finish at Vallter 2000.
The Team Sky rider blew the peloton apart with an attack 1km from home, before succumbing to the counter-surges of his rivals and eventually crossing the line fourth.
Colombian climber Nairo Quintana powered clear of the field with an impressive burst in the final 300m to win by six seconds from Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde, with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) following in third on the same time.
Valderde now assumes the overall leadership of the race, six seconds clear of fellow Spaniard Rodriguez and a further four ahead of Wiggins.
Despite missing out on the stage win, the Briton's explosive display was further evidence of his fine form and suggested he will be in contention for overall victory come Sunday's final stage.
Quintana, meanwhile, said of his win: "This victory is a boost for my moral and confidence. Our strategy was waiting for that very last moment to attack. The attack by Wiggins took the speed up.
"I saw a good moment to attack and it was just when Purito [Rodriguez] made his move. I had good legs and could keep the speed until the end."
Into the mountains
Stage three presented the race's first real test for the climbers and general classification contenders, with a 180km route ending with a 12km hors-categorie final ascent.
A four-man group comprising Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Lucas Haedo (Cannondale), Martin Kohler (BMC) and Karol Domagalski (Caja Rural) broke away from the peloton after just 7km and opened up a gap of more than seven minutes.
But the quartet began to splinter with 50km to go when Edet and Domagalski left their two fellow escapees behind, before Edet went solo as Domagalski began to tire in the final 15km.
The Frenchman held a lead over the peloton of more than a minute going on to the final climb, but he was caught 4km from the finish by the attacking Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol).
The Belgian was himself reeled in 2km from the line as Team Sky pushed on at the front of the pack, providing the ideal springboard for Wiggins to launch his own bid for victory 1km out.
The peloton had been closely bunched together up until that point, but cracks immediately started to appear as riders further down the field struggled to handle the rise in pace.
Wiggins was quickly followed by Quintana, who then burst off the front as he responded to an attack by pre-stage favourite Rodriguez with 300m to go.
The Colombian had the stronger legs, though, and crossed the line six seconds ahead of Valverde, who had followed and overtaken Rodriguez at the death.
Stage three result
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, 5:01.20
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +6secs
3 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, same time
4 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, st
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +9
6 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
8 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida, st
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Team Sky, st
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +21
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, 12:24.22
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +6secs
3 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +10
4 Michele Sacrponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, +13
5 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida, same time
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +22
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco, +36
8 David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky, +36
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp, st
10 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +41