Contreras climbs to top 3 in San Luis
On a day which saw many riders suffer, the Etixx – Quick-Step neo-pro had a strong showing on Cerro El Amago and moved to the podium and into the lead of the U23 standings.
From the start of Tour de San Luis' stage 3 it was obvious that everything will play out between the favourites on the climb of Cerro El Amago. For that reason, no one gave any chance to the 12 riders who went into the day's break, all being reabsorbed by the bunch one by one, with the last cyclist caught on the first slopes of the ascent (10.5 km, 7.2 average gradient). Soon afterwards, first to attack from the main group was Dayer Quintana (Movistar), the Colombian being joined by his countryman Janier Acevedo (Team Jamis).
Their move was initiated early, with around 8 kilometers to go, and was to no avail, as Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Vital) surged strong from behind, caught the two and distanced them with ease, powering away to take the victory and with it the green jersey of the race. Acevedo and Ramon Villalobos (Costa Rica) came on the podium, long before Sepulveda finished the stage, who has a slender lead in the GC – only three seconds – over the next rider, Dayer Quintana.
Returning to the race one year after finishing fifth, Rodrigo Contreras didn't have a smooth day, mainly due to the aftermath of a crash in which he was involved earlier in the week, but that didn't prevent him from fighting hard against a strong opposition in the season's curtain-raiser, an encouraging sign of things to come. The 21-year-old Colombian gained a place on the general classification and is now third, just 38 seconds adrift, while also leading the U23 ranking, which means he'll spend tomorrow's stage in the light blue jersey that rewards the best young cyclist of the race.
"It was a difficult stage, especially because of the high temperatures, but thanks to the incredible work of my teammates I was well positioned at the beginning of the last climb. As soon as the road started to rise, riders went full-throttle, and at one point I was left behind. Still, I didn't give up, I found my rhythm and slowly began to claw back time. Considering that I'm not at 100% because of the crash in which I was involved a couple of days ago, I am happy with my result and I'm very motivated for the upcoming stages", said Rodrigo Contreras, the team's best-placed cyclist in the overall standings.
As the Tour de San Luis enters in its second half, the riders will prepare for stage 5 (Renca – Juana Koslay, 168.7 kilometers), which is going to finish on a slight uphill, perfect for the sprinters with a hint of punch.
Photo: ©Tim De Waele