Patrick Bevin has finished 7th in stage 2 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.  After finishing 10th in yesterday’s opener, Bevin recorded his seventh top 10 finish of the season behind Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb who sprinted to the win ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Daryl Impey.

The first of the more sprint-friendly stages, stage 2 from Mataró to Sant Feliu de Guixols featured three third category climbs en route to the finish.  Thomas De Gendt entered the stage with a 2.48min lead over Maximilian Schachmann of BORA-Hansgrohe following his epic solo breakaway win yesterday.

Three riders formed the day’s breakaway, with Marco Minnaard of Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Jonas Wilsly of Astana and Josef Cerny of CCC Team going up the road to build a lead of 7 minutes over the peloton.  The trio worked well together, but the peloton with almost 50km to go were pretty committed to bringing the move back.  Deceuninck-QuickStep, Astana and Movistar were all committed to setting a strong tempo at the head of the race and so too the likes of Team Sunweb and AG2R La Mondiale.

It was interesting, although not wholly surprising, that though Thomas De Gendt held the overall lead, his Lotto Soudal were not leant on to chase, with the Belgian sitting towards the back of the peloton with 45km to go.  De Gendt’s position was an interesting one, given that he certainly is known for being a strong climber, although not held in the same bracket as the likes of Nairo Quintana, Enric Mas, Chris Froome, Miguel Angel Lopez, Simon Yates and co.  Therefore it was somewhat understandable that the more GC oriented teams were taking the initiative to lead the chase.

With 37km to go, and with the time gap down to 1.32mins for the break, Chris Froome of Team Sky was involved in a crash.  While he was able to remount and continue on, it was a costly tumble that saw him delayed for some time before he continued on. He’d been battered a fair bit on his right side, but was persisting as Team Sunweb continued to set the tempo at the front of the race.  The damage was clearly taking a toll on Froome, who dismissed the first team car, allowing it to go up the road as he began the finishing circuit already over a minute behind.  In the end his GC hopes ceased as the Brit would wind up sacrificing a full 14 minutes to his GC rivals.  

At 30km to go the break’s lead had dropped to beneath a minute as the break approached the final climb of the day.  It was here that the break fragmented as Josef Cerny emerged as the last man standing.  With 26km to go his lead held at a slender 33 seconds to the peloton which, though together, looked like they could explode if one team really opted to seize the moment.  Astana were prominent on the front and they led the peloton to finally get on board with Cerny with just under 600m to the summit of the climb.  

Astana’s pace on the front was strong, but there would be plenty of time for any stragglers to get back on board on the descent and flat-ish run in to the line.  With 10km to go Astana were continuing to pile on a strong tempo at the head of the race while Team Sky made their way forward to protect their new leader in Egan Bernal and set him up for the final intermediate sprint, but Alejandro Valverde showed his class and took the points instead.

A late attack with 7km to go saw Natnael Berhane of Cofidis go clear, but with Jumbo-Visma, Movistar and Team Sky all contending for control at the front of the race it was a move that would be swallowed up with just under 6km remaining.  

The run in to the finish was tough and brought out attacks from the likes of Michael Woods of EF Education First and then BORA-Hansgrohe’s Maximilian Schachmann putting Team Sky on the defensive.  With 1.2km to go it was gruppo compacto, and the sprint for the finish was on through the twisting and turning streets.

The sprint finish saw Dion Smith take charge of the peloton to try and lead out Daryl Impey, with the Kiwi putting in a powerful kick on the uphill ramp that briefly saw him gain a bit of breathing space at the head of the race; before Impey kicked on the right hand side of the road.  Michael Matthews was perfectly positioned on Impey’s wheel, with Valverde behind him.  Matthews’ kick saw him pass Impey and hold off the world champion to take the stage win, with Valverde second and Impey third.  

Maximilian Schachmann and Odd Christian Eiking completed the top 5 with James Knox of Deceuninck-QuickStep finishing just ahead of Patrick Bevin in seventh place.  Dion Smith of Mitchelton-SCOTT finished 15 seconds back after his big lead out effort for Impey, while James Mitri finished ahead of Andre Greipel as he pushed through his injuries sustained in yesterday’s crash.

Stage results:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1MATTHEWSMichaelAUS       TEAM SUNWEB4:09:34
2VALVERDEAlejandroESP       MOVISTAR TEAM4:09:34
4SCHACHMANNMaximilianGER       BORA – HANSGROHE4:09:34
6KNOXJamesGBR       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 4:09:34
7BEVINPatrickNZL       CCC TEAM4:09:34

155MITRIJamesNZL       BURGOS – BH4:21:37

Photo: Sirotti


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