Volta a Catalunya (st. 6)
The penultimate stage of the Volta a Catalunya passed without incident for Movistar Team, who can now turn their thoughts to the defence of Nairo Quintana's race lead on tomorrow's eight challenging and decisive laps of Barcelona
The longest stage of the 2016 Volta a Catalunya – 197 km between Sant Joan Despí and Vilanova i la Geltrú – followed a winding although not excessively demanding route through the heart of the beautiful Penedés, a wine-producing area between the mountains and the Mediterranean. The Movistar Team riders worked methodically around their leader, Nairo Quintana. Dani Martin (OQS) took a 3” time bonus at the first intermediate sprint to move to within 18” of the race lead, but the telefónicos maintained their calm, helped by the local knowledge of Marc Soler.
The stage ended in a mass sprint which broke out at the very moment the peloton caught the remnants of the eleven-man breakaway group that shaped the stage. Of six survivors, the strongest three – Vakoc (EQS), Meyer (DDD) and Lindeman (TLJ) – even disputed the sprint, although it was Cimolai (LAM) who won the day. The Movistar Team riders, meanwhile, safely negotiated the dangers posed by crosswinds and surprise attacks, and now only tomorrow's eight circuits around Montjuïc stand between Nairo Quintana and victory. A year ago, Valverde won on the 'Magic Mountain'. Tomorrow, Nairo takes a 7" lead over Contador (TNK) into Barcelona, his sights set on the overall prize.
Nairo Quintana: “The pace was pretty high yet again, but the team functioned extremely well during the stage. We were never in difficulty and we go into the final day full of desire and ambition. For Montjuïc we have very strong riders like Imanol [Erviti] or even Winner [Anacona], who know how to interpret the circuit and climb very well. We hope to finish the race without complications. I have no doubt that riders will be going on the attack to improve on their placings, but others will want to defend their positions too.
"Attacks by my rivals will certainly come, and they will be of concern, but I also think that the stage could end in a sprint so there will be teams wanting to chase in order to give their fast men a chance of victory. Tricky descents? Well, circuits are always tricky, but if you are at the front of the peloton, you can let the pace guide you and, provided you don't lose position, they are manageable."
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport / Luis Ángel Gómez