Volta Catalunya 2015 – Stage 4

Stage 4 of the Volta Catalunya brought the peloton to the snow covered Pyrenees of La Molina. The queen stage was 188km and went over four climbs each progressively harder than the last, including the HC climb Alt de la Creueta. To give you an idea of how cold and what elevation we were at, there were people skiing along side of me as I walked to the finish.

 

Needless to say the difficult course made for an animated race from the beginning. A breakaway got away early, including Cannondale-Garmin’s Tom Danielson for the second day in a row, along with Riccardo Zoidl (Trek), Jerome Coppel (IAM), Jose Herrada (Movistar) and Loic Chetout (Cofidis).

Cannondale-Garmins Tom Danielson and Trek Factory Racing Zoidl

Cannondale-Garmins Tom Danielson and Trek Factory Racing Zoidl in the breakaway.

 

The breakaway gained a healthy advantage, but with 100km to go Astana attacked over the Alt de Coubet they reduced the gap to just over a minute. Behind in the peloton, big names were left behind including Chris Froome. This caused the pace to be even higher and put enormous pressure on the break to stay away.

 

On the Alt de la Creueta the peloton was within 45 seconds of the break and Danielson reacted by lifting the pace with Zoidl the only rider who could stay on his wheel. Going over the top the break had a margin of 1:40 to a group of about 30 riders where race leader Pierre Roland had been dropped.

 

Heading into the base of La Molina the two man breakaway had 40 seconds on the chasers. With 4km to go Sky’s Vasil Kiryenka launched an attack that closed the gap to Danielson and Zoidl. Immediately Danielson reacted by lifting the pace and launching Dan Martin. Teejay Van Garderen then countered Martin and set off on his own as the favorites watched each other. Contador then launched a blazing attack trying to reach Van Garderen but came up short. With the help of teammate Kiryenka, Richie Porte was able to catch and soar past Contador during the last 300 meters of the stage. Porte finished 3 seconds behind Teejay. The win for Teejay comes right on the heels of a terrifying crash the day before.

 

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Pierre Rolland was dropped during the putting Bart De Clerq (Lotto Soudal) in the leaders jersey 21 seconds ahead of Richie Porte. The groupetto finished 27:49 back.

 

Stage 5: Alp-VallsThis stage starts at the bottom of the La Molina climb and takes over 195.4km of mostly flat and gradual roads. With one climb towards the end, a category 2 Alt de Lilla (4.1km, 4.8%, max. 7%) From there it’s a 10km descent to the finish.

 

Tom Danielson finished the stage as the leader of the Mountain Classification.

Tom Danielson finished the stage as the leader of the Mountain Classification.

Writing this post after an emotionally jam packed two days. I never know how much of my personal feelings I should share in my write-ups. I try and keep my articles concise and to the point. One of my pet peeves is trying to sift through novel length articles or bad TV coverage to get the bits I really want. But the excitement, anxiety and sometimes heartbreak you feel watching the ones you love compete in one of the hardest sports in the world is unlike any other. Knowing that anything and everything is completely out of your control. 99% of the time it isn’t going to work out but we do it for those 1% days. The ones that can only be described as magic.

 

With love,

-kourtney