- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

LA MOLINA, Spain (AP) - Joaquim Rodriguez broke away from the other race favorites on the final uphill climb to take the lead of the Volta a Catalunya with a stage win on Wednesday.

The Katusha cyclist surged past Tour de France winner Christopher Froome and left behind Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana to claim the third of seven stages, a 163-kilometer (101-mile) ride from Banyoles to La Molina in the Pyrenees mountains.

Rodriguez stayed pegged to Froome when he made a timid attack with 500 meters to go before pushing forward to win the stage in 4 hours, 50:55 minutes.

Contador finished second and was five seconds behind Rodriguez in the overall standings. Quintana was nine seconds behind after finishing the stage in third. Froome crossed fifth to fall 13 seconds off the pace.

On Thursday, riders face a second consecutive day of cold temperatures and snow-topped mountains with a 166-kilometer (103-mile) ride ending in a summit finish above the village of Setcases.

“Tomorrow we will surely see the same riders at the end. I just hope we have the same outcome as today,” said Rodriguez, the local favorite who won the Volta in 2010. “It will be very cold again and demanding.”

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