Joaquim Rodriguez ended a year-long wait for a win on Wednesday when he edged Colombians Sergio Henao and Nairo Quintana to claim the third stage of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco.
Team Katusha’s Rodriguez won a sprint to finish the mountainous 170.7km ride from Vitoria to Zumarraga, Spain, in 4 hours, 39 minutes, 2 seconds.
The three riders moved to the top of the overall classification on the same provisional time — seven seconds ahead of the rest — with Team Sky rider Henao taking over first place from Michael Matthews of Orica GreenEdge.
Dutch cyclist Lieuwe Westra of Astana led a solo breakaway after shedding three other riders until he was chased down by the peloton with about 3km remaining.
The leading trio then surged up the second of two climbs over the category 2 La Antigua hill to pull away from the rest of the peloton, before Rodriguez pushed ahead at the finish.
“For me this is a very special victory,” the 35-year-old Rodriguez said. “I felt like I had entered a very bad stretch. It’s like my first victory as a professional. I hope it will be the beginning of, if not a good run, then at least a normal one. I am going to enjoy this because it means a lot.”
Rodriguez’s last stage win was in March last year en route to winning the Volta a Catalunya.
Yesterday’s stage was due to be a 162.2km mountainous ride from Zumarraga to Arrate, Spain.
The six-day race ends tomorrow.
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