The 3rd stage of the Volta a Catalunya came down to a select group of favourites sprinting for the win but Natnael Berhane didn’t make it easy for them, riding strongly in the main break of the day before attacking on the final climb. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took the stage win in the end, ahead of Dan Martin (Quickstep-Floors) and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott).
After a fast start to the stage and numerous breakaway attempts during the first 50km of the stage, 4 riders were able to ride away from the peloton. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were determined on making it into the move today so it was a job well done by Berhane, forming part of the quartet.
Our Eritrean showed he was the strongest in the break, putting in long hard pulls which helped the gap grow to just over 6 minutes. With around 80km to go, the first of 3 category 1 climbs began and Team Sky came to the head of the peloton to start chasing down Berhane’s group.
The other riders offered what they could to Berhane in the break in terms of setting the pace but the gap kept dropping. Starting the final 13km climb to the line, Berhane and co. only had a 1 minute lead and so our 26-year-old took matters into his own hands and set off up the climb alone.
With the Sky train in full flight though, the writing was on the wall for Berhane despite his brave efforts. Just inside 8km to go and the select group of favourites hauled Berhane in. The early breakaway efforts of our other riders meant they didn’t have much gas left in the tank for the final climb, and so it was Ben O’Connor and Berhane who were our best placed at the line in 48th and 52nd respectively. Berhane’s efforts were rewarded with the most aggressive rider of the day prize.
Natnael Berhane – Rider
It was a hard stage today and also very hard to even get into the break. I think everyone in our team tried to go in the break for the first 50km. Finally I was able to make it in the break which I was happy about. I was feeling good during the stage and it makes me positive for my condition is going the right way. I had to try go for it in the final myself but I was caught just before 7km to go. The good thing is I tried my best today.