The Volta a Catalunya reached its conclusion today with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) sprinting to the final stage victory and the overall GC win in Barcelona. Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) was 2nd on the stage and Arthur Vichot (FDJ) placed 3rd.
It was just a short 138km stage finishing on a punchy 7km city circuit today, ending off what has been a tough week of racing in Catalunya. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were intent on making an impact during the final stage and so from the gun, our riders were looking to make the break. When 22 riders got clear, Daniel Teklehaimanot made sure to be part of the escape.
The peloton allowed the group to gain a lead of 3’00” before Quickstep-Floors, Orica-Scott and Team Sky started chasing down the breakaway. With 56km to go, there were some attacks in the front group and the 6 strongest riders, including Teklehaimanot, went clear. The peloton was flying though and the gap slowly started to decrease.
The punchy circuit was also taking its toll on the riders as the peloton began to shed riders, lap by lap. Just before the start of the final 7km lap, the break was caught and attacks then followed from the main GC contenders. First it was Chris Froome (Team Sky) and then Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) to try their luck but it was the counter from Dan Martin (Quickstep-Floors) and Valverde that stuck.
The final time over the circuit climb saw just 16 riders remain in contention for the stage win. Our African Team had Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Ben O’Connor just miss the front split and they did all they could to chase back. Valverde and Martin started their sprint with 250m to go as the rest of the favourites bore down on them. Valverde just had enough though to hold them off to take the win. Janse van Rensburg and O’Connor came home in the 2nd group 16 seconds later to place 23rd and 26th.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
On the last stage today we were hoping that the break would go to the finish. Unfortunately, Fuglsang was part of the big breakaway that got away and he was a danger to the top 10 on GC. The teams did not let the gap go with Fuglsang there. When we reached the circuit the gap was down to 2-minutes so we tried to reduce the group with Daniel and he did really well there. He went ahead with another 5 riders and it was looking really good for a while but Quickstep was going full gas in the peloton. In the end the stage was again for the big GC riders.