Volta a Catalunya (st. 2)
World Champion from Movistar Team ammassed additional 9″ bonus, finishes behind Matthews (SUN) at uphill sprint on Catalunya stage two, prior to first mountain-top finish in Vallter 2000.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) remained into full focus at the 2019 Volta a Catalunya, the World Champion covering stage two with extreme attention and will to gain an edge on his rivals before the decisive days of the race. The Blues’ leader took 2nd place at the uphill finish of a lumpy stage two, over 166km from Mataró to Sant Feliu de Guixols, behind a robust sprinter: Australia’s Michael Matthews (SUN).
Valverde, well supported in the approach to the final circuit by Carlos Verona, Andrey Amador and Imanol Erviti, managed his way through any misfortune -despite suffering a cut to his left hand as a bike from a Bora-Hansgrohe rider hit him into a crash before the first passage to the finish- and was even able to contest the intermediate sprint in Platja d’Aro, 9km from the end, to take another 3″ to add to the 2″ snatched on Monday.
The torturous, chaotic finale along the coast required an extra effort from both Valverde and Nairo Quintana, who also took a 2″ bonus in the sprint. Fortunately, both were able to get to the front before the last kilometer’s straight, at 5% gradient, where the sprinting power of Matthews took the better from a punchy climber as ‘Bala’, now 2nd overall at 2’47” from Thomas de Gendt -Quintana sits in 6th, +2’56”-.
The rainbow jersey will tackle the first two of two big mountain finishes in the Pyrenees on Wednesday, climbing from sea level -Sant Feliu de Guíxols- to above 2,100m in Vallter 2000 (HC), a 12km climb at 7% preceeded by the ‘cols’ of Oix (Cat-1) and Rocabruna (Cat-1).
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It was a very dangerous, twisty finale. In the first passage through the line, into a small descent before the final kilometer and the last straight, there was a crash with Froome and a Bora rider. I was riding just behind Froome, and even if I didn’t touch either him or the Bora rider, the latter’s bike hit my left hand and caused me a small cut, which hurts quite a bit. But happily, and leaving that incident aside, it’s a day to be happy about. We took bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint, both Nairo -second- and myself -first-, then I could contest the finish and take 2nd place. My body is reacting well to the recent efforts and the team is working perfectly, so let’s see what we can do in Vallter tomorrow.”
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport