Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the 2nd stage of the Volta Catalunya, sprinting to the victory and overall race lead, ahead of Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) and Jay Mcarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) respectively.
Today the Volta Catalunya peloton took on 175km from Mataro to Valls. The first 120km of the stage was always gradually uphill and this allowed an early break of 3 riders, which later became 4, to ride away to a 3-minute lead. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had pretty much the same strategy as yesterday, to not lose time on GC and conserve energy for the big climbing days to come.
The gradual climbing and fairly strong headwind made it difficult for the break to put any real pressure on the peloton. After passing through the feedzone at kilometer 124, the race dropped down a descent to the base of the Col de Lila. The 5.4km climb peaked with just 10km to go, and it was here where the break was neutralised.
There were a few unsuccessful attacks on the climb itself, but a big bunch sprint would be what decided the stage. Valverde used his experience to navigate the technical finale and take the win. A late split in the bunch saw a a time gap given of 49″ to the second main group, but thanks to some clever riding and team work, Louis Meintjes, Merhawi Kudus and Ben O’Connor were all on the right side of the split for our African Team.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
Today was quite similar to yesterday’s stage for us, by concentrating on not losing any time on the GC with Louis, Merhawi and Ben. There was also a late cat 3 climb just like yesterday, that needed attention and also we were weary of the wind creating any splits. For the most part, the wind was a headwind so that kept the race together, and in the final the guys were well positioned near the front over the climb and finished with the main group. So it was a good job from the team today and now we will have to look at tomorrow’s stage, as the organisers have had to make a late change to the route because it’s no longer possible to finish up at Vallter 2000 Setcases.