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"On top of this there are also stomach problems going around, and Julián was not feeling well at the start. Then Giacomo crashed with 20K to go. He finished, but we have to assess yet how he is. His shoulder is fine though,"...

Photo: Trek Factory Racing

DANILO HONDO

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GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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HAIMAR ZUBELDIA

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JULIAN DAVID ARREDONDO

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ROBERT KISERLOVSKI

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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VOLTA A CATALUNYA

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25.03.2014 @ 21:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Trek Factory Racing had started the Volta a Catalunya with a two-pronged GC attack but with Julian Arredondo losing time due to stomach issues, the team is down to just Robert Kiserlovski as a top 10 candidate. The day was a very black one for the American team which lost both Danilo Hondo and Haimar Zubeldia due to illness while Giacomo Nizzolo crashed hard in his first stage race back from a broken collarbone and is a possible non-starter tomorrow.

 

Adversity strikes Trek Factory Racing as the team ended the second day with six riders, losing both Haimar Zulbedia - who started the race sick yesterday - and Danilo Hondo to acute bronchitis and sinusitis. Hondo was a non-starter but Zubedia attempted to tough it out again, and lasted for 20-kilometers before he, too, succumbed to the sickness.

 

Adding to the team’s bad luck, Giacomo Nizzolo crashed hard in the latter stages of the race, but was able to continue and finish. Plus, Julián Arredondo started the day with stomach issues.

 

Despite the loss of two of its experienced riders, and Julián Arredondo at less than perfect health, the team pulled up their sleeves, shrugged off the misfortune, and went to work. The job today was simple: protect Robert Kiserlovski, and ensure he does not lose any time before tomorrow’s tough, decisive stage three.

 

And, that they did.

 

A six-man breakaway forged clear under an ominous sky soon after the start, but the escapees were policed tightly by Giant-Shimano who never allowed more than a few minutes lead. As the rain began to fall in the latter part of the 168-kilometer stage the gap to the leaders hung callously at 35 seconds. Sensing the peloton had eased off the accelerator Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) - never one to throw in the towel - attacked his breakaway companions and set off in a solo act.

 

As the rain continued to spit, Voeckler built a lead over the forsaken breakaway of 25 seconds, and one minute to the peloton.  With 16 kilometers remaining Giant-Shimano put its legs into over-drive, and on the final gradual climb Orica-GreenEdge and Team Sky moved to the front to set a fast tempo, as Trek Factory Racing also lent a hand. By the top, with 5-kilomters to go, the escape was over.

 

The fast, and wet run-in to the finish was executed perfectly by Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano), making it two for two, and holding firmly onto his leader’s jersey at the same time.

 

Trek Factory Racing coasted across the finish, with Kiserlovski safely amid the GC leaders, as the attention now turns to the climbers in the mountainous stage three tomorrow.  Director Alain Gallopin talked us through the arduous day for the team, putting the team’s adversity into context.

 

“We are not the only team dealing with this sickness: one from Sky, GreenEdge, and Wanty [Group-Gobert]; there are a lot of guys sick. On top of this there are also stomach problems going around, and Julián was not feeling well at the start. Then Giacomo crashed with 20K to go. He finished, but we have to assess yet how he is. His shoulder is fine though.

 

“The rest of the team was okay. Robert looks good, and Julián finished and lost a little time at the end but that should not affect much, so we will see tomorrow. I hope the weather will be okay, and the team stays healthy.

 

“With only six riders, this does not change much for us. In the mountains even alone you can win, you just need to follow. You have Sky with [Chris] Froome, Tinkoff with [Alberto] Contador, Movistar with [Nairo] Quintana, and Katusha with [Joaquim] Rodriguez - we do not have the responsibility of the race.  Honestly, I just need two or three strong guys with Robert to help him obtain a top 10 result. This is the focus for the rest of the week.”

 

You can read our preview of stage three here and follow our live coverage at 15.15 CET on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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