Van der Poel and Hovdenak dominate the BUFF® stage
The Dutchman, Mathieu Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), leads the general classification after beating the Spaniard, Enrique Morcillo (Buff®-Scott MTB Team), and the Romanian, Vlad Dascalu (Brújula Bike Brújula Bike Racing Team), today in a tight finish in what was a very demanding stage.
The Norwegian, Hildegunn Hovdenak (VPG), ended the Spaniard Clàudia Galicia’s (Megamo) victory streak by winning the stage, although Hovdenak trails distantly in the general classification.
The BUFF® stage of the fifth edition of La Rioja Bike Race presented by Shimano was tough and intense, which was testified by the more than 1,200 participants who raced the challenging 65.4 kilometers with 2,178 meters of climbing.
Departing from Logroño and crossing the picturesque Rioja vineyards in the direction of Daroca de Rioja, the mountain bike racers climbed to Moncalvillo, the stage’s epicenter.
Upon descending La Hermedaña, one of the race’s most emblematic sections, Moncalvillo was climbed again to take advantage of the magnificent Las Neveras descent. The race returned to Logroño via the Águila peak, which has also appeared in other editions, and which was the stage’s ultimate physical and technical challenge.
In the men’s elite category, the Dutchman Van der Poel was again the day’s fastest, which he established from the stage’s start, despite significant bruises caused by a fall yesterday. He was chased by the Spaniard, Morcillo, and the Romanian transplant to La Rioja, Dascalu, who scored his best best position in the history of La Rioja Bike Race presented by Shimano.
The stage winner and leader in the general classification, declared upon reaching the finish, "This second stage has been very hard, with many ups and downs that have been especially hard after my fall yesterday. In the final part, knowing that I have a good sprint, I waited for the right moment to win the stage."
The Ibizan and second-place in the GC, Enrique Morcillo, agreed about the stage’s degree of difficulty and the Dutchman’s racing prowess. "The team's strategy was to escape in the first kilometers and that's how it went. Van der Poel came with me and we shot to the front together with Francesc Guerra close behind,” Morcillo said. “Today's stage was tough and I barely made it to the podium because of leg cramps. Tomorrow we will try to conserve energy and strategize to get to the podium."
The man, the myth, the legend of mountain biking, José Antonio Hermida (Merida), declared upon reaching the finish line that, "It was a very fast stage, very nice, with lots of people cheering everywhere. In the end I was left alone and had to go solo, but everything went very well; I was enjoying the bike, which is what really motivates me." He also added that the leader in the GC is unstoppable. “He is the boss. He has an innate talent, which he can parlay into both road and mountain races and always come out on top. He is the Valentino Rossi of mountain biking’s future," Hermida said.
Men’s Stage 3 Classification:
Mathieu Van der Poel 02:51:08
Enrique Morcillo 02:51:08
Vlad Dascalu 02:51:09
Men’s General Classification:
Mathieu Van der Poel 02:45:13
Carlos Coloma 02:48:09
Francesc Guerra 02:49:15
In the Women's Elite category, Hildegunn Hovdenak has made history by defeating the unbeaten Clàudia Galicia, who finished a few seconds later.
"Today things went much better than yesterday. It was a stage with very technical climbs and, at the start, there weren’t too many guys in front of me, so I was able to go fast. In the last feed zone I saw that I was about twenty seconds behind Clàudia, so I went as fast as possible to score the stage victory,” said the Norwegian.
Nevertheless, the Catalan, who’s had her streak of 13 consecutive victories broken, sustains a comfortable lead in the general classification.
"Hildegunn raced a very good stage, she deserved to win. She passed me when there were only ten kilometers left to reach the finish and I was able to stay on her wheel. Now the important thing is that I still have the lead and my goal to win the race. I cannot make any mistakes despite having a seven-minute lead."
Third in today’s Buff® stage was Clara Fernández (Scott-Sanferbike), who blamed herself for overexerting herself yesterday, but today she’s back on the podium again.
Women’s Stage 3 Classification
Hildegunn Hovenak 03:27:38
Clàudia Galicia 03:28:47
Clara Fernández 03:40:38
Women’s General Classification:
Clàudia Galicia 03:22:55
Clara Fernández 03:26:33
Hildegunn Hovdenak 03:31:38