Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) wins Volta a Catalunya 2018! The Spaniard takes his sixth seasonal victory and shows the world he can achieve the success not only when the road goes uphill but also in the sprint. Movistar leader – together with Nairo Quintana – took the bunch sprint over Daryl Impey (Mitchelton – Scott), Jay McCarthy (Bora – hansgrohe) and Egan Bernal at the end of a finale ridden at an astonishing pace. Because of Mitchelton-Scott’s high tempo set on the Col de Lila, the former leader Alvaro Hodeg, together with several other riders, dropped the peloton and on the finish line of Valls only the most tough sprinters struggled for the victory. Together with today’s stage success Valverde takes the overall lead of the 2018 Volta a Catalunya.
A sunny day welcomed the peloton at the start in Matarò, 125’000 inhabitants town by the Catalan coast. The most of the group was expecting a sprint at the end of the stage it turns out this prediction was right. Three riders went clear as soon as the race started: Antonio Molina (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Igor Merino (Burgos-BH) and, soon after, Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi-Murias). When Molina crossed in first the KOM sprint after 17 kilometers of racing the leaders held on at 2’45” on the peloton and, in the following kilometers, the gap touched its maximum extension to 3’50” of width. Quick Step Floors, with over 130 kilometers remaining, started to set a higher tempo in order to make smaller the gap and, a handful of kilometers later, the break sitted 2′ ahead of the bunch.
With 70 kilometers to go a level crossing stopped the march of the leaders: Merino, Molina and Bizkarra were forced to rest a couple of minutes and the same did the group under the guidance of the race commissaire, who decided to stop the group because the cars following the break were still stationary at the level crossing. The whole Movistar team joined Quick Step Floors in the lead and all together started to jump across the gap. When the leaders were only 25″ away, Andriy Grivko (Astana) went clear solo, chased the breakaway and attacked several times with a view to accelerating the tempo. The Ukrainian allowed the break to extnd its gap to one minute with 57 kilometers to go but, ten kilometers after, the peloton swallowed the breakaway quite easily.
Movistar tried to set an astonishing pace along a nasty exposed crosswind section of racing but didn’t achieved in breaking the group. Soon after, with 42 kilometers still to be covered, Cyril Barthe (Euskadi-Murias) attacked and opened quite rapidly a 20″ gap over the bunch. The Basque rider led the race solo until he hit the last 15 kilometers: the peloton, in facts, accelerated the pace in order to hit the Coll de Lila as fast as possible. In the meantime Barthe was leading Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana sprinted for the time bonuses at the intermediate sprint placed with 24 kilometers to home and the Spaniard took 2 bonus seconds whereas the Colombian 1.
Movistar hit in the lead of the race the climb but, as soon as Alvaro Hodeg started to drop the wheels of the peloton, Mitchelton-Scott moved up to the front in order to exclude the Colombian to fight for the victory. Australian team chased the attempts of every rider who tired to go clear and headed the group until the descent ended with 5 kilometers to the finish line: Pierre Roger Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale) with 10 kilometers to go and Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-merida) five kilometers later didn’t achieved in opening a gap. Mitchelton drove the group into the last kilometer of racing, where Bahrain-Merida took the lead. Mohoric led-out Enrico Gasparotto to the sprint but Alejandro Valverde, who moved up in first to the last hundreds meters, got the success.
Volta a Catalunya 2018 Stage 2 Results
1 VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team 4:41:50
2 IMPEY Daryl Mitchelton-Scott ,,
3 MCCARTHY Jay BORA – hansgrohe ,,
4 BERNAL Egan Arley Team Sky ,,
5 MOHORIC Matej Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team ,,
6 GASPAROTTO Enrico Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team ,,
7 ROJAS José Joaquín Movistar Team ,,
8 GEOGHEGAN HART Tao Team Sky ,,
9 SKUJIŅŠ Toms Trek – Segafredo ,,
10 HOWES Alex Team EF Education First-Drapac ,,
Volta a Catalunya 2018 General Classification
1 VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team 8:21:09
2 MCCARTHY Jay BORA – hansgrohe 0:04
3 IMPEY Daryl Mitchelton-Scott 0:06
4 QUINTANA Nairo Movistar Team 0:11
5 MOHORIC Matej Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 0:12
6 JUNGELS Bob Quick-Step Floors ,,
7 PRADES Eduard Euskadi – Murias ,,
8 GASPAROTTO Enrico Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team ,,
9 SIMÓN Jordi Burgos-BH ,,
10 BERNAL Egan Arley Team Sky ,,