As the Tour of Catalonia entered French territory on Tuesday, the wind did some damage after a 202 kilometres-long stage. Everyone expected echelons, and they did take place, as the various crashes also helped for it to happen. A very small bunch therefore reached the finish for the sprint, and Kaden Groves took the victory. Rudy Molard managed to take the right move while most of his teammates got to the line thirty-three seconds later. Consequently, Quentin Pacher is no longer on the GC podium before the first major mountain stage.
After his fine third place on Monday, Quentin Pacher got to wear the points classification jersey this morning at the start of L’Escala. Like his teammates, he then enjoyed quite a calm beginning to the stage since the day’s breakaway immediately went with Jonas Hvideberg (DSM), Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Adria Moreno (Burgos- BH). The fugitives’ advantage quickly reached five minutes while the leader’s team soon handled the chase. “The first part of the race was rather easy”, testified Rudy Molard, who’s making his come-back into racing in Catalonia. At the halfway point, the terrain changed a bit and so did the bunch attitude. “The second part was very difficult, and very tiring by the sea, with the cross wind, and a series of climbs/descents on winding roads”, said Rudy. Due to the growing tension within the bunch, the breakaway obviously lost ground as many crashes occurred along the way. With fifty kilometres to go, the peloton entered in France and the profile became less tortuous. The breakaway was caught twenty kilometres further, but the riders soon faced another obstacle: wind. “It was not a surprise, we talked about it this morning”, said Philippe Mauduit. “We knew there were going to be echelons, and we knew where”.
“We are not rewarded for our efforts”, Rudy Molard
The peloton then split about fifteen kilometres from the finish, following consecutive turns and accelerations, as well as crashes. “Eventually, the bunch broke quite quickly”, added Rudy. “It’s a shame because we tried to be well positioned all day, to ride together and we missed it for almost nothing in the very end”. “They prepared well for this final, they were committed to fight for it”, confirmed Philippe. “However, when it all happened, Rudy launched thinking he had his mates in the wheel. Unfortunately, they did not immediately follow him and found themselves in the back of the first echelon. And this first echelon split again with ten kilometres to go”. The Frenchman was therefore the only Groupama-FDJ rider to remain in the front group, which went on to fight for victory in a sprint. “I finished in front, but it’s not the most important”, he said. “The goal was for our leaders not to lose time. We are a bit disappointed with the result today because we got involved but we are not rewarded for our efforts. We will still have to work on that so as not to be caught behind in the future. From a personal point of view, I am quite satisfied with my first race. I have a decent level and I manage not to suffer too much. Above all, I’ll need to see how I recover over the days”.
On Tuesday evening, Quentin Pacher dropped to thirty-sixth in the general classification, forty seconds behind leader Jonas Hvideberg. His teammates Sébastien Reichenbach, Attila Valter and Michael Storer are just four seconds away, as the first mountain stage will reach the top of La Molina on Wednesday. “It’s a terrain that suits us more,” concluded Philippe. “We lack a bit of power horse on the flat here, but we should be able to do well in the next two stages”.