photo credits @ VaC
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) held off several attacks from GC rival Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) to survive the hilly final stage of the Volta a Catalunya in Barcelona to claim the overall win.
The Slovenian rider weathered several accelerations to hang on to Evenepoel, the pair racing towards the finish together after leaving the peloton behind at just under 30 kilometers to go. Roglič led the way down the final descent and into the final kilometer, while Evenepoel jumped from the wheel inside the final 100 meters to claim his second stage win of the race.
Meanwhile, Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) rounded out the podium 53-seconds later, having earlier been the only man to match the attack by Evenepoel and Roglič. He secured fourth overall behind teammate João Almeida, while the peloton, including his GC rival Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) trailed in at 58 seconds down.
“I’m super happy. It was a tough one,” Evenpoel said after the stage. “As I mentioned this morning, it was going to be really hard to drop Primož on a course like this. I think we proved that we were the strongest again. My team took a lot of responsibility since the start and also on the laps, so I think we deserved this one. It was a nice battle with Primož and I’m happy I could beat him in the sprint
“He is one of the strongest riders in the world, he’s in a really good shape, and when he’s in top shape he’s maybe the best rider in the world. I knew if there was one guy who would follow me it was him. Like I said already it’s easier to defend a jersey than attack for a jersey, so big grade to him. A big week from him here, and for myself, I’m super happy to take this beautiful stage here in Barcelona.
“I knew I was good so I was hoping to come here for the podium and to win some stages. In the end, to come second in the GC with only six seconds is like the same time, no? It’s almost the same. If you see how strong we were compared to all the others behind us, I think one of us was meant to be the winner of this beautiful race. I’m happy that my team was on point and I think that we showed that we were maybe overall the strongest team during this week.
An early breakaway of nine managed to battle over the first climb of the day, the early Alt de Begues. Richard Carapaz and his EF Education-EasyPost teammate Simon Carr were joined in the move by Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Carlos Verona (Movistar), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën), Tsgabu Grmay (Jayco-AlUla), David de la Cruz (Astana Qazaqstan), and Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
Hayter was the first to drop from the break on the second lap of the six, though at that point – with 35 kilometers remaining – only 25 seconds separated the front of the race and the peloton.
De la Cruz later attacked off the front to lead solo on the third passage through the finish line, though it would only be a matter of time before the GC battle erupted behind. The catch came at 28km from the line just before the third peak of the Alt del Castell de Montjuïc, with Evenepoel launching immediately afterwards.
With 28 kilometers to go, Roglič and Evenepoel broke free from the peloton on the finishing circuit in Barcelona, with the Belgian rider unable shake off his Slovenian rival along the short ascents of Montjuïc.
Soler later bridged his way to the lead duo, but their advantage would only extend over the course of the next lap and into the final 20 kilometers, with Evenepoel once again upping the pace on the penultimate ascent with 13 kilometers to go. Only Roglič was able to mark his move, while Soler fell back.
As the two leaders took the bell for the final lap, they enjoyed an advantage of 20 seconds on Soler and 50 seconds on the peloton, leaving them free to contest one final battle over the last lap of the race.
There would be no big move from Evenepoel on the final ascent, though he did capture the mountain classification title after leading the way over the top. Further back, Soler was in danger of being caught by the peloton, with Almeida bizarrely leading the chase against his own teammate.
However, the Spaniard would hold the group off to come through for third place at the line. 53 seconds earlier, Roglič had led the way down the final descent and towards the finish, with Evenepoel glued to his wheel before hitting the wind to launch his victorious sprint.
You must be logged in to post a comment.