A first battle royale of the season between the WorldTour’s elite climbers proved to be every bit the spectacle promised after Chris Froome (Team Sky) lit the touch-paper late in stage three of the Volta a Catalunya.
Froome attacked inside the final 500 metres, taking with him Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
And last year’s world number one, Rodriguez, was the man to strike the first blow – his stunning burst of acceleration proving too much for his rivals on the ascent of La Molina.
Froome’s attack faded, with the Kenyan-born Brit rolling in fifth – his GC ambitions by no means over however.
For Rodriguez, who celebrated arms outstretched, it is the first victory in a year he hopes will finally end with a Grand Tour success, and as statements of intent go it was a big one.
Earlier in the stage he had been pictured, covered almost head-to-toe in a bid to protect himself from the biting cold, with a huge buff covering his face.
He beat the freezing conditions on La Molina’s wide-open roads and he conquered his rivals in phenomenal style however.
So, what did we learn about Rodriguez and his rivals from the stage? Read on for our five observations, and add your own in the RCUK Forum.