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Friday, March 28, 2014
Mezgec gets 3rd stage win, Rodriguez leads Volta

Associated Press

VALLS, Spain -- Slovenian cyclist Luka Mezgec earned his third stage win of this Volta a Catalunya, edging the pack in the final sprint on Friday.

Joaquim Rodriguez maintained the overall lead, with the 218-kilometer (134-mile) ride from Llanars Vall de Camprodon to Valls producing no changes at the top of the general classification.

Mezgec, riding for Giant-Shimano, finished the stage in 5 hours, 16 minutes at the front of a large pack. He also won the two opening stages of the seven-day race with sprint finishes.

Rodriguez kept his four-second lead over Alberto Contador. Tejay van Garderen remained seven seconds behind. Nairo Quintana trailed by 10 seconds and Tour de France winner Christopher Froome was 17 seconds off the pacesetter.

"I hope I can reach the final day with the same advantage," said Rodriguez, who won the Volta in 2010. "We will have to be very attentive and stay focused."

Contador downplayed his chances of overtaking Rodriguez.

"The remaining course leaves very little margin," Contador said. "For me, the important thing is to recover physically from these tiring days."

Saturday's sixth stage will take riders over 172 kilometers (107 miles) from El Vendrell to Vilanova i la Geltru.

The race finishes in Barcelona on Sunday.