The 3rd stage of the Ruta del Sol saw the heavyweights of Grand Tour riding, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) battling for the stage win with the Spaniard coming out tops today. With Froome in 2nd, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) came home 3rd.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were well represented at the front of the race today as Merhawi Kudus was able to match the favourites up to the 3km to go sign. Merhawi was brought to the foot of the final climb by his Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung team mates.
Contador was able to rely on Ivan Basso to pretty much ride everybody of their wheels before the multiple grand tour winner put in his one and only attack on the races final finishing climb. Contador was able to open up a 30” lead on his chasers which included Merhawi, Bardet, Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky), Benat Intxuasti (Movistar) and Froome.
Froome soon dropped the chasers in pursuit of his long-time rival as Kudus continued to battle his way up to the summit of the climb. After going down on stage 1 and losing time on the GC, the young Eritrean showed good maturity today to take the race head on. In the end, Merhawi would secure 7th place on the stage.
Today I can be happy with my performance but also my team were very very good. The final climb was tough and I tried to follow the main guys. 7th is okay and tomorrow I will have another chance so despite losing time behind the stage 1 crashes, I will stay positive to try get another good result.
Merhawi Kudus - Rider
We were looking forward to this stage since the start of the race. Everything was focused around Merhawi and supporting him up to the final climb. The race started fast with 10 riders getting away, they only got a 2'20" gap as Tinkoff-Saxo controlled. Coming to the final climb the most important thing was to bring Merhawi to a good position before it started, the team did a great job at this. On the climb, Merhawi tried to stay with the biggest names and was in the 5 rider chase group until 3km to go. We are very happy with his 7th place and to see the excellent progress he is making as a bike rider, staying close to two of the best grand tour riders in cycling at the moment.
Alex Sans Vega - Sports Director