Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Niki Terpstra, who was 8th (+10") in La Vuelta a Espana GC going into the 3rd, 155.3km mountain stage, took a shot at a race victory and GC lead at the base of the final climb on Monday.
After OPQS worked hard to chase down the remainder of an 8 rider break that attacked within the first few kilometers of the stage, Terpstra attacked on Cat. 1 Arrate. Arrate is a 5.5km long climb that averages 7.8%, with maximum ramps of 11 percent. However, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, working for their leader Alberto Contador, chased him down in order to protect their GC rider.
As Terpstra was caught, the peloton split and a group of 20 to 25 riders were the only ones able to keep up the blistering pace set by Contador and several others in the final kilometers. Contador attacked six times on the climb, and only Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha Team), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Sky) were able to stick to his wheel. In the final kilometer, Rodriguez went for the stage win, but it was Valverde who beat him to the line for the race victory. Valverde also took over the GC lead. Froome was 3rd.
Serge Pauwels was the top finisher for OPQS, in 34th place (+1'28").