Volta Catalunya #3: Kudus, Meintjes and O’Connor safely finish with favourites

Thomas De Gendt soloed to victory on stage 4 of the Volta Catalunya. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) led the chasing peloton home in 2nd, ahead of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in 3rd place. De Gendt also pulled on the race leaders jersey after his efforts today.

The 3rd stage of the Volta Catalunya started with a revised route, after the organisers removed the original summit finish to Vallter 2000 Setcases, replacing it with the easier run up to Camprodon. It was a pity the route needed to be changed due to inclement weather, as the summit finish would have suited our slightly built climbers, Louis Meintjes, Merhawi Kudus and Ben O’Connor.

Nevertheless our African Team started today’s 153km stage with the intention of looking after our 3 key climbers and delivering them to start of the category 2 Port de Collabos climb in a good position. An early break of 6 animated the beginning part of the stage, with De Gendt, a breakaway specialist, part of the move.

The peloton held the gap between 2 and 3 minutes for the better part of the stage, with a prevailing wind keeping the bunch on it’s toes, and always threatening to split the peloton. A technical run into, and descent off of the category 1 Coll de Bracons climb did see a few splits in the main bunch, but it all came back together ahead of the Collabos climb, with all our African Team riders present in the main group.

De Gendt went solo on this climb, with a little over 20km to go to the finish in Camprodon. As the climb peaked with 13km to go, the Belgian had a 1’30” lead over the peloton which was being led by Mitchelton-Scott. In a bid to bridge across to the lead, Yates, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Mathias Frank (AG2R La Mondiale) then attacked the main group.

They were unsuccessful in their bid and where caught by the peloton right on the line, while De Gendt impressively held off all his chasers to win the stage by 20″. Kudus. O’Connor and Meintjes all finished safely in the main group, with our Eritrean being our first across the line in 22nd position.

Merhawi Kudus – Rider

They made the stage shorter because of the cold which was a good decision I think. Even though we are a team of mostly climbers, so it didn’t really suit us today, but if it’s the weather, we can’t change it. Today’s stage was hard, especially when we hit the cat 1. It was twisty and the descent had a little bit of crosswind so it split. For us it was not a problem, we were still in the first group. When it came to the finish I tried for the sprint and I was around 20th which was good. My form is still not 100% but I will just keep improving like today.