|El Gato in yellow once again.|
Defending Champion Félix "El Gato" Cárdenas (GW-Shimano) showed his ambition as he easily won the sprint of the third stage of the 2012 Vuelta a Colombia. The 198km stage between Soacha and Ibague was the longest of the race. Ecuadorian Byron Guama (Movistar Continental) was second and 2011 Tour del Avenir winner, Esteban Chaves (Colombia-Coldeportes), was third.
By gaining valuable seconds on the time bonuses available in the intermediate sprints and the 10 seconds at the finish line, El Gato also recaptured the Yellow Jersey he had lost only 2 ago to youngster Edwin Avila. Avila moved down to second in the GC, 10 seconds back of the stage winner.
Stage 4 will finally bring the mountains that the Vuelta a Colombia is known for. Four categorized climbs will take the riders from Ibague to Armenia. The last of the climbs is the legendary Alto La Linea that has been very selective in past years. This monstrous climb is about 30kms long and averages just over 7.5% with a maximum incline of 13%. Whoever survives La Lina will still have 58kms to go before reaching the valley below and, eventually the city of Armenia.
Last year Cardenas assumed the lead of the race in the city of Ibague and went on to win the Vuelta. Tomorrow we will find out if he can do it again. One thing is for sure, the GW-Shimano team will have their hands full with Colombia-Coldeportes and EPM-Une, who will test El Gato all the way up the HC climb.
|La Linea awaits the Vuelta a Colombia (Photo: Altimetrias Colombianas)|
1. Félix Cárdenas (GW-Shimano) 4:23:15
2. Byron Guama (Movistar) ST
3. Esteban Chaves (Colombia-Coldeportes)
4. Janier Acevedo (Orgullo Antioqueño)
5. Marlon Pérez (Colombia-Comcel)
1. Félix Cárdenas (GW-Shimano)
2. Edwin Ávila (Selección Colombia de Pista) 10s
3. Marlon Pérez (Colombia-Comcel) 15s
4. Fabio Duarte (Colombia-Coldeportes) 16s
5. Juan Pablo Villegas (4/72-Colombia) 18s