With just two stages under their collective belt, the peloton embarked on the queen stage of the 96th edition of the Volta a Catalunya today. With the stage beginning in Girona, it was an especially sentimental stage to the numerous riders who call this city home.
Koen Bouwman and Alexy Vermeulen. The American neo pro is a new Girona resident.
When I asked Louis Meintjes how he was feeling about the intimidating stage he admitted to being a bit nervous. The South African rider crashed just ahead of the final climb and had to abandon the race.
Carlos Babero showing off his colorful shoes.
Race leader Nacer Bouhanni won the first two stages convincingly. He began publicly complaining of stomach troubles at the conclusion of stage two and, unsurprisingly, the French sprinter abandoned the race as it headed into the mountains.
Always popular and generous with his time, Joaquim Rodriguez was particularly mobbed this morning as he is one of Catalunya’s most successful cyclists.
David De La Cruz gave an interview.
Marc Soler, another Catalan rider, was much sought after.
The lanky Canadian Ryder Hesjedal traded in his argyle kit for pinstripes during the offseason.
Long time Girona resident, Dan Martin paused to sign autographs for local school kids. Having placed a disappointing third by mere seconds at last year’s Girona stage, the Irishman found redemption today at the arrival in La Molina. Incredibly, all of the favorites were still together in the final kilometers as the peloton climbed towards the ski station summit. When Nairo Quintana attacked, only Martin had the legs to respond, taking the stage with room to spare ahead of his rivals. Martin now leads the overall general classification.
Eduard Prades received a trophy for being the highest finishing Catalan on stage two.
Dayer Quintana, Darwin Atapuma, Jarlinson Pantano, and Esteban Chavez represent half of the Colombians still in the race. (Trivia! Name the 4 Colombians at the Volta a Catalunya not pictured here and name the lone Colombian to have abandoned so far.)
Johannes Fröhlinger and Richie Porte.
Timmy Dugganmay have retired from the peloton at the end of 2013, but he remains close friends with many riders. The American had been in the area skiing and came to Girona just to see his former colleagues. Below: Alex Howes and Timmy Duggan.
Marc Soler near the front of the field as the peloton rolled out.