Volta a Catalunya (st. 7)
Spaniard becomes new UCI WorldTour ranking leader, wraps up dream Volta for Movistar Team -with Nairo Quintana in 2nd overall; Marc Soler in 5th; and the Blues as winners of the team GC-, conquers his third stagerace success in as many events in 2018.
Alejandro Valverde confirmed his third overall success in the Volta a Catalunya in Montjuïc on Sunday, following splendid work from the Movistar Team all over the seven-day event. The Spaniard and his six team-mates overcame all attacks and difficulties during a lively 154km stage seven around Catalonia’s capital – finishing with eight laps of the traditional circuit around the Barcelona mountain – and rounded off a week of impressive results.
The Blues leave this race with two stage wins by ‘Bala’, plus the individual GC and the KOM ranking; a 2nd spot overall for Nairo Quintana, third-place finisher atop La Molina; a 5th in the GC for Marc Soler, second to Simon Yates (MTS) on Sunday; and a resounding teams’ classification win for the whole group managed by Eusebio Unzué, an absolute reference in the peloton this last week.
Valverde, who becomes the new leader of the 2018 UCI WorldTour individual ranking, equals Miguel Indurain with three Volta triumphs and, thanks to his 116th success as a pro competitor, chains three stagerace wins this season out of three he’s lined up at so far, following the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and the Abu Dhabi Tour.
The Telefónica-backed squad only suffered one setback during the week. José Joaquín Rojas crashed just before the final lap of today’s stage by sliding into one of the fast turns leading riders towards the closing straight – with Egan Bernal (SKY), 2nd overall heading into this final day, crashing out of the race.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“They always say that a race is not won until the final finish line is crossed, and it was a really nervous, fast stage today, where we had no respite. The roads were always a little bit wet, with some light rain falling over the final circuit – that made for a very dangerous course, worse than usual. We saw two motorbikes from the organisers and TV crashing, and later on, my team-mate José Joaquín Rojas went down together with Bernal at a point where one of those motors might have left some oil from its crash.
“It’s really sad to see what happened to Egan. He was again really strong on the circuit today, jumping across to the breaks – I really had to dig deep to follow his wheel and neutralize the attempt. Things just happen where you don’t expect them to do. He’s a talented guy, with lots of future and already some big results to his name – I just hope he recovers well and quickly, as well him as my team-mate José Joaquín.”
“It was a difficult race again today, but my team-mates, just like they’ve done all week, were able to keep things under control. When things got the craziest, I just accelerated on the climb to keep neutralizing those moves which were more dangerous, to make things easier for my team-mates. We worked again a little bit after my attack, because Yates was sort of a threat for the overall result. All in all, things turned out really well.
“It’s been a fantastic week for us, with Nairo’s second place, the fifth by Marc, the two stage wins… The team have worked their hearts out for the seven days, and we really deserve these results. It was awful to see Rojas crashing and not being able to join us on the podium after finishing, though. In my case, there’s no better way to start a season, especially considering where I was coming from. A fourth Volta title in 2019? I don’t know. We’ve got three now, which is fantastic, and above all, it’s three stageraces already for me this season!”
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport