Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) had no problems defending his overall lead in the final stage of the Tour of Catalonia, won in a spectucular bunch sprint on the Montmeló Formula One circuit by Argentina’s Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank).
Led out by his brother and team-mate Lucas, Haedo said afterwards he had started his final acceleration for the line on the downhill sprint finish slightly too early.
But even so, with few sprinters remaining in the race by this point, Haedo had no problems taking the first victory (barring a criterium in India) of the season, and the 26th of his professional career.
The build-up to the final dash for the line, including eight circuits of the Montmeló circuit, was so fast that just one breakaway, of riders Haimar Zubeldia (Radio Shack) and Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux) managed to go clear.
However with five kilometres to go the duo were reeled in and with Saxo Bank driving on the front it was more than obvious that the stage would end in a bunch sprint.
After finishing comfortably in the main pack in 37th place, Rodriguez has become the first Catalan-born rider to take his home race in 27 years, but he dismissed the fact as unimportant.
“What matters is that I’ve taken a big stage race, and that step by step I’m buidling up a great palmares.”
A bronze medallist in the World Championships last year and second in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, amongst Rodriguez victories are multiple stage wins in Tirreno-Adriatico, a stage of the Vuelta and another in Paris-Nice.
But overall victory in Catalonia is another big step up for ´purito’, as he is nicknamed, and reflects well on his decison to move on last winter from Caisse d’Epargne, where he was eclipsed by Alejandro Valverde, to the Russian squad Katusha in 2010.
“If I had been in my previous team, I’d never have been allowed to get in the breakaway on stage three that won me this race,” Rodriguez said afterwards. “Winning today is proof I made the right choice.”
Tour of Catalonia 2010, Stage seven: Sant Cugat del Valles – Montmelo
1. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank 117km in 2-32-21
2. Robert Forster (Ger) Milram
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R
4. Davide Vigano (Ita) Team Sky
5. Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank
6. Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7. Manuel Cardoso (Por) Footon
8. Paul Vos (Ger) Milram
9. Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quick Step
10. David Loosli (Swi) Lampre all same time
93. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky
106. Dario Cioni (Ita) Team Sky
130. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky all same time
DNF John-Lee Augustyn (RSA) Team Sky
Final overall classification
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha in 25-16-03
2. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo at 10sec
3. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 43sec
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 45sec
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R at 1-20
6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions same time
7. Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Transitions at 1-21
8. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 1-22
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Radioshack at 1-25
10. Remy Di Gregorio (Fra) Française des Jeux at 1-26
54. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 16-45
65. Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas at 22-05
72. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky at 24-38
113. Davide Vigano (Ita) Team Sky at 47-22
117. Charly Wegelius (GB) Omega Pharma at 47-50
Stage six: Dumoulin wins as Rodriguez sets up overall victory
Stage five: Cavendish quits Catalonia with flu; Rodriguez confident of overall
Stage four: Voigt wins with powerful uphill sprint
Stage three: Tondo take stage, Rodriguez moves into lead
Stage three photo gallery
Tour of Catalonia 2010, stage two: Cavendish takes first win of season
Stage two photo gallery
Tour of Catalonia 2010, stage one: Voss takes surprise win
Illness forces Wiggins out of Tour of Catalonia
Tour of Catalonia 2010 preview
Cycling Weekly’s all-time list of British pro winners