In the wake of Cofidis' fine performance in the team time trial (9th fastest time), it was the weather conditions that were the talk of the town. This morning in Mataró, the rain intensified, raising fears of an even trickier stage. So, before the start, the organizers decided to freeze the times for the overall classification at the Alto del Castillo de Montjuïc, 3.6 km from the finish.
And Rochas tried his luck
Fortunately, as we approached Barcelona, the rain had stopped, allowing us to tackle the stage with a little more serenity. But the asphalt was slippery and there were many crashes. Bryan Coquard was involved some forty kilometers from the finish, followed by François Bidard some twenty kilometers from the line. Both riders suffered minor contusions.
Although they were able to get back on the road - Bryan took 4th place in the intermediate sprint - they were unable to stay in the first group. Remy Rochas did. After trying to place David Cimolai in the final kilometers, he attempted an attack. Although this was slightly too early (he finished 13th on the stage), the French rider was able to demonstrate his good form. And he and the whole Cofidis team have made a date to be among the Vuelta's leading lights.
Tomorrow sees a change of scenery. The road will rise for the first time in this Vuelta, with two particularly demanding climbs, the Col d'Ordino (1st cat) and the final ascent to Arinsal (1st cat). This high-altitude day in Andorra should give the favourites a chance to explain themselves and the Cofidis climbers a chance to test their mettle.
Remy Rochas: "We tried to work as hard as we could for Bryan because we wanted to win the stage with him. After his crash, he told us he didn't really have the leg anymore, so we started working for Davide. Then I tried to get in position at the foot. It's true that I made my effort a little too early, I thought it was going to tip over before... But the important thing to remember is that it allows us to get the Vuelta off to a good start and to be positive for the rest of the race."
Bingen Fernandez, sports director: "We knew it was going to be a complicated day, especially with the consequences of the rain. It forces us to be more attentive, to watch out for crashes... Bryan was our main card of the day except that he fell. The fall wasn't serious, but afterwards he didn't have the legs to go for victory. Remy tried his luck on the last climb, but we must salute the performance of Andreas Kron, who was stronger today. Tomorrow, neither rain nor cool temperatures are expected. We're likely to see the first of the Vuelta's big guns go head-to-head.