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"I put a stage win at the Tour ahead of a win at the Flèche wallonne. Everything done at the Tour is like a storm.”

Photo: Sirotti

JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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06.07.2015 @ 20:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It was familiar ground for Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez as he lit out for the finish line on the 1,1 km Mur de Huy and claimed the victory for the 3rd stage of the 2015 Tour de France. It was a move reminiscent of his 2012 win on the traditional finishing climb of Flèche Wallonne. Rodriguez, age 36, celebrated his fourth win of the cycling season and brings the total to thirty-four for the team, a record in the history of Team Katusha. The hilltop success also gave Joaquim Rodriguez the polka dot jersey as the best climber in the general classification.

 

I started the day with some fear after a bad night following my crash yesterday and some knee pain in the morning, but during the day I really felt good and then better and better. The team supported me also very well. It is a pity we had to lose Dmitriy Kozonchuk. I did not see the crash as I was in front of it, but I could hear it. 

 

"The speed was really high headed in the direction Mur de Huy. I even had to ask Giampaolo Caruso to slow down a bit. On the Mur everything went well. I attacked with 400 m to go. That is the perfect distance for me. I am explosive and this Mur suits me so well. The last time I wanted to wait a little longer and then I was closed in by others. I did not want to take that risk this time and I went full gas and it was perfect. I am so happy after the fabulous work of the team too," said stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez. 

 

Chasing in just behind Rodriguez was Chris Froome (Team Sky) who took the yellow jersey on the third day of racing. Rounding out the top three was Alexis Vuillermoz of AG2R La Mondiale. Behind Froome at 1-second is Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick Step) and Tejay van Garderen of BMC at 13-seconds for third place on the classification.

 

"My condition is good. Also yesterday it was good. I just lost time due to flat tire and a crash at a bad moment. In the end I did not lose too much time. Paris is a long way to go and I am still very ambitious. This mountain jersey is nice. I would be happy with it in Paris but my real goal is a good GC," continuedJoaquim Rodriguez. 

 

"Yesterday was a bad day because I had worked so much and the puncture and crashes have ruined everything, it was sad. But today's win is great. It's the fruit of a phenomenal team work. I'm very happy. It's a fantastic mental booster for all of us. 

 

"When I saw the 400 metres to go mark, I wasn't even thinking. In the last Flèche wallonne, I got boxed in and I couldn't attack. I didn't want this to happen again. I'm not surprised that Froome and Contador couldn't follow me because this finale suits me at perfection. I'm a very explosive rider. I know this finale very well too. A 400 metres long effort is exactly my favorite distance. I knew I could win but it's true that in the last 100 metres I was pedaling with my ears. A victory like today's is a kind of unforgettable event.

 

Stage 3 always promised to be spectacular with the course including some of the same roads used in the Spring classics. At 159,5 km, the route began in Antwerp, Belgium with the final circuit the identical one used in Flèche Wallonne to feature the first uphill finish in this year’s race. Just as a breakaway of four riders was brought back with more than 50 km still to go, a major crash hit the peloton and forced the abandonment of several riders, including Katusha’s Dmitriy Kozonchuck, and seeing the yellow jersey of Fabian Cancellara go down and later to be off the back by more than eleven minutes at the finish.

 

Dmitriy Kozontchuk was involved in the big crash and had to abandon the race. In the Centre Hospitalier Régional of Huy, the Russian rider was diagnosed with a fracture of the left shoulder blade (Лопатка) as well a broken left collarbone. Kozontchuk will undergo surgery on Tuesday morning in the O.L.V. van Lourdes Hospital of Waregem (Belgium).

 

The race was quickly neutralized while medical staff re-grouped and tended to the wounded, eventually re-starting after almost 20 minutes. The first of 4 climbs was also neutralized, but racing resumed for the final three with Rodriguez attentive and ready to battle for the stage victory. 

 

"Tomorrow is the pavé. That is not at all my specialty. I just hope to not crash and not lose too much time, and then the Tour can really start. But it has not been bad so far. I am proud and happy," concluded Team Katusha leader Joaquim Rodriguez.

 

W"hat happens this week has nothing to do with with what can happen in the other two weeks. Experience, strength and resistance will prevail. Tomorrow, it'll be important not to lose time. At the Tour, things change daily and the race is won in Paris.

 

"The most important is to arrive safe and healthy in the mountains. With this heat and this rhythm of crashes, it'll be an extraordinary. I hope not to crash again.

 

"I'll try to keep the polka dot jersey, but the way to Paris is a very long one and my primary goal is the overall classification. There aren't many Tours built in such way that I can enjoy like this one with big mountains to come.

 

"I put a stage win at the Tour ahead of a win at the Flèche wallonne. Everything done at the Tour is like a storm.”

 

Stage 4 promises more excitement in a mini “Paris-Roubaix” as the race finally moves into France.  The stage begins Seriang, Belgium and ends in Cambrai after the longest stage at 224 km. With small climbs up and down all day, the cobbled sections will feature prominently in this stage. Seven sectors of pavé over a distance of 13,3 km will make for an exciting fourth stage.    

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