Volta a Catalunya (st. 6)
Alejandro, Movistar Team get safely through shortened stage six, in rainy, slippery, windy conditions; head into Montjuïc in Sunday with a chance of a ‘double treble’: a hat-trick of GC victories in Catalunya for the Spaniard + a third consecutive victory for ‘Bala’ at stageraces in 2018.
Germany’s Maximilan Schachmann (QST) took a surprise victory on the penultimate stage of the 2018 Volta a Catalunya, a race shortened early on Saturday morning by the organisers due to snow on the opening half of the course from Vielha. Only 117km were covered in the afternoon, down in the Lleida flatlands, from La Pobla de Segur to Torrefarrera.
The short route did not prevent fans from watching a lively stage, with lots of nerves because of the slippery descents; cold temperatures, even below zero; and some serious splits because of the crosswinds on the final 30 kilometers. Barely eighty riders were part of a main bunch where Movistar Team always kept safe their leader Alejandro Valverde, as well as their two other top-ten overall riders: Nairo Quintana (3rd) and Marc Soler (6th).
José Joaquín Rojas took 9th place at the sprint into the pursuit group, 18″ behind Schachmann and fellow breakaway member Diego Rubio (BBH, 2nd), in the eve of the decisive stage on Sunday. 154km will take the peloton on a loop around Barcelona before heading for the final eight laps around the mountain of Montjuïc –the women’s #reVolta set to be held also there in the morning-. Valverde will have a shot at his third GC victory in the race and claim also a third consecutive stagerace win in his brilliant start to 2018, with overall triumphs in Valencia, Abu Dhabi and this week’s Volta a Catalunya.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It wasn’t an easy day by any means. The route profile was indeed the easiest this week, but it was so cold out there. There were points of the race when my Garmin was telling me it was 0ºC. Despite the route being shortened, there were times when the whole peloton was like ‘frozen’. That wear and tear was even more important than the crosswinds when those echelons were formed in the finale. People could barely stay on their bikes. The only important thing today was staying together until the finish, and despite it was scary on the descents and we had those splits, we completed our job well thanks to superb support from my team-mates. Actually, I only realized the peloton had broken into many groups when I was noted through our earpieces. We were so focused on just staying in one piece that we didn’t have a look back.
“We might have some rain also tomorrow, but it isn’t the same when you’ve got rain + temperatures around zero, rather than the 10-12ºC expected in Barcelona tomorrow. The most important thing on that final stage is staying calm: we respect our rivals, we know they’re strong and they will try everything to take those seconds back on Sunday, but it’s unnecessary to get nervous about it. We will just give our best and reach the furthest we can. Aiming for the stage win in Barcelona? To be honest, the only important thing tomorrow is winning the Volta. If we get the overall success, it will already be a massive honour for us.”
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport
- 01 Maximilan Schachmann Quick Step 2h34'25"
- 02 Diego Rubio Burgos-BH m.t.
- 03 Sam Bennett Bora-Hansgrohe +18"
- 09 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +18"
- 11 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team m.t.
- 35 Marc Soler Movistar Team m.t.
- 40 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team m.t.
- 55 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team m.t.
- 74 Winner Anacona Movistar Team m.t.
- 122 Antonio Pedrero Movistar Team +3'10"
- 01 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team 24h56'48"
- 02 Egan Arley Bernal Team Sky +16"
- 03 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team +26"
- 06 Marc Soler Movistar Team +1'18"
- 59 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +11'55"
- 72 Winner Anacona Movistar Team +19'22"
- 124 Antonio Pedrero Movistar Team +37'54"
- 137 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +49'15"