March 21, 2012 – Slovenian Janez Brajkovic of the Astana team won the hilly third stage of the Tour of Catalonia, shortened dramatically by organisers Wednesday because of heavy snowfall.
Brajkovic had been part of a 10-man breakaway which pulled away from the peloton early in the stage and, despite the testing conditions, stayed away to the finish.
Poland’s Michal Golas of Omega Pharma-QuickStep finished second with Frenchman Mickael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale) in third place, although many riders abandoned.
The bad weather forced organisers to chop over 50 km off the 210 km stage, meaning the final two “hors categorie” (unclassified) climbs in the Pyrenees were not raced.
In the end, the finish line was staged at Canturri, 50 km before the summit of the scheduled finish at Port-Aine.
Organisers had not yet published official times, raising the possibility the stage results may not count towards the general classification.
Among the numerous abandons on the day was Luxembourg’s 2010 Tour de France champion – and two-time runner-up – Andy Schleck (RadioShack).
It is the second stage race Schleck has failed to finish following his early retirement, due to a stomach bug, from Paris-Nice recently.
Spanish contender Alejandro Valverde pulled out of the race prior to stage three due to pain from a shoulder injury he suffered in a crash on Tuesday.
Valverde crashed in the feed zone around the 103 km mark of the 161 km stage around Girona, after which he trailed home over two minutes behind Swiss race leader Michael Albasini of GreenEdge to virtually lose all chance of winning the race.
The fourth stage of the seven-stage race Thursday is a 199 km ride over undulating terrain from Tremp to Asco.
Results in the Tour of Catalonia after Wednesday’s third stage, 210.9km ride from La Vall d’en Bas to Port Aine: Note: Bad weather forced organisers cut 50 km off the stage with the finish line at Canturri; stage times not included in overall standings.
Stage 1. Janez Brajkovic (SLO/AST) 0min 01sec
2. Michal Golas (POL/OPQ) same time
3. Matteo Carrara (ITA/VAC) s.t.
4. Mickael Cherel (FRA/ALM) s.t.
5. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) s.t.
6. Christian Vande Velde (USA/GRM) s.t.
7. Thomas Rohregger (AUT/RSH) s.t.
8. Johann Tschopp (SUI/BMC) s.t.
9. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/RAB) s.t.
10. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) s.t.
Selected: 16. Levi Leipheimer (USA/OPQ) s.t., 80. Denis Menchov (RUS/KAT) s.t., 109. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/RAB) s.t., Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) retired, . Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) retired, . Andy Schleck (LUX/RSH) retired, . Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) retired
Overall 1. Michael Albasini (SUI/GEC) 7h 12min 12sec
2. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) at 1:32
3. Mickael Cherel (FRA/ALM) 1:32
4. Steve Morabito (SUI/BMC) 1:32
5. Arnold Jeannesson (FRA/FDJ) 1:32
6. Daniel Martin (IRL/GRM) 1:32
7. Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL/LTB) 1:32
8. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/RSH) 1:32
9. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 1:32
10. Tom Danielson (USA/GRM) 1:32.
Selected: 21. Denis Menchov (RUS/KAT) 1:32, 23. Levi Leipheimer (USA/OPQ) 1:32