Volta a Catalunya (st. 6) / Settimana Coppi e Bartali (st. 4)
Matthews (SUN) wins chaotic sprint in Vila-Seca as Robeet (WVA) holds off bunch in Crevalcore, Movistar Team safe in both races; Quintana, Landa remain in 4th overall before decisive showdown in Montjuïc, Sassuolo.
Despite the Movistar Team’s two races on Saturday -a pan-flat stage four in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, over ten laps of a circuit in Crevalcore (171km), and a hilly route in Tarragona’s Volta a Catalunya stage six to Vilaseca (169km)- offering changes for sprint finishes, the former (Italy) didn’t happen and the latter (Spain) was put into jeopardy even by race leader Miguel Ángel López (AST), on the attack in a chaotic finale.
As the Telefónica-backed squad remained focused in Catalunya against the coastal crosswinds in the closing stages, Amador, Erviti, Valverde and Soler took strong relays in the passage through Salou / Cambrils to create some significant splits in the field. The group would later on come back together before López’s attack, alongside Davide Formolo (BOH), before the sprinters’ teams suffocated those attempts before the finishing straight in Vila-seca. Michael Matthews (SUN) won the tight bunch kick against Phil Bauhaus (TBM), as Richard Carapaz took 13th in the sprint. Nairo Quintana and Marc Soler remain in fourth and tenth overall before Sunday’s eight laps around the Montjuïc mountain in Barcelona, always an exciting showdown.
In turn, the Coppi e Bartali witnessed a second stage success in the race for the small Wallonie-Bruxelles outfit, as Ludovic Robeert won from an eight-man escape including World U23 ITT champion Mikkel Bjerg (HBA, 2nd) and Jacopo Mosca (ITA, 3rd). With no sprinter to pull for, the Movistar Team focused on continuing to protect Mikel Landa, who stayed in 4th place overall, 22″ behind Lucas Hamilton (MTS). Sunday will bring an exciting final stage in Sassuolo, over four climbs to the Valico di Fazzana (2km, 9% avg.) – the final one just 10km from the end.
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport