Kiwis Dion Smith and Patrick Bevin have ended the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya on a high with fourth place finishes for both riders in the closing stages of the race.  Miguel Angel Lopez came away with the general classification win ahead of Adam Yates and Egan Bernal.

Matthews again as Bevin takes 4th

The final potential sprinters’ stage in the 99th edition of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya came in stage 6 from Valls to Vila-seca.  The 169.1km course took in a tough opening 120km or so, but from there was just about all downhill to the line before the ramping uphill finish.  The break of the day was dictated by Floris De Tier of Jumbo-Visma, Geoffrey Bouchard of AG2R La Mondiale, Oscar Riesebeek of Roompot-Charles, Josef Černy of CCC Team and Mikel Iturria of Euskadi-Murias.  Together the quintet built a lead of around 3 minutes before being somewhat pegged back by a dual effort from Bahrain-Merida and Dimension Data.

With 55km of racing to go the break’s lead was sitting at 1.54mins but they managed to stretch that advantage back out to 2 minutes, holding on to their advantage all the way until 12.3km to go.  Michael Matthews had shown signs of struggle earlier in the stage, but his Team Sunweb squad were front and centre as they raced towards the finish, getting ready for the kick for home.  Davide Formolo of BORA-Hansgrohe had other ideas though, attacking with just 2.5km remaining.  

The Italian was joined by Miguel Angel Lopez of Astana and the pair looked threatening, although the sprinters were never going to let the opportunity to win go to waste after De Gendt had spoiled the party in stage 1 and Maximilian Schachmann did the same in stage 5.  The sprint for the line saw some unlikely figures mixing it with the fast men, as Rafal Majka of BORA-Hansgrohe, Miguel Angel Lopez and Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Enric Mas took on the sprint for the line.

Patrick Bevin of CCC Team hit for home on the right hand side of the road, but it was Michael Matthews who came through to take the win ahead of Phil Bauhaus of Bahrain-Merida and Daryl Impey of Mitchelton-SCOTT, with Bevin slotting in for fourth place ahead of Mikel Aristi Gardoki of Euskadi Basque Country-Murias.

Results:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1MATTHEWSMichaelAUS       TEAM SUNWEB3:56:36
2BAUHAUSPhilGER       BAHRAIN – MERIDA3:56:36
3IMPEYDarylRSA       MITCHELTON – SCOTT3:56:36
4BEVINPatrickNZL       CCC TEAM3:56:36
5ARISTI GARDOKIMikelESP       EUSKADI BASQUE COUNTRY – MURIAS3:56:36
6HOFSTETTERHugoFRA       COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS3:56:36
7GIBBONSRyanRSA       TEAM DIMENSION DATA3:56:36
8LOPEZ MORENOMiguel AngelCOL       ASTANA PRO TEAM3:56:36
9MAJKARafalPOL       BORA – HANSGROHE3:56:36
10MAS NICOLAUEnricESP       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 3:56:36
OTHERS




107SMITHDionNZL       MITCHELTON – SCOTT3:58:47
109MITRIJamesNZL       BURGOS – BH3:58:47
Patrick Bevin took four top ten finishes and was in the breakaway again on the final day in Catalunya, photo Sirotti

Lopez clinches GC win as Dion Smith sprints to 4th

As is traditional, the final stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya wrapped up in Barcelona with the tough and trying finishing circuit to be navigated 7 times in all.  Nine categorised climbs featured en route to the finish and so it was little wonder to see Thomas De Gendt ending the race as he started, in the breakaway and in pursuit of security in the king of the mountains classification.  He had good company though in a group of 11 riders in total that included Jesus Herrada of Movistar, Davide Formolo of BORA-Hansgrohe, James Knox of Deceuninck-Quick Step and Patrick Bevin of CCC Team.

For Bevin this could very much be considered one of his most aggressive World Tour events of his career to date with multiple breakaway attempts combining with four top ten finishes in stage sprints; and now he was back in the middle of the fray again.  The group functioned well as behind them Mitchelton-SCOTT took the primary role in chasing them back, holding them to a 1.52min advantage with 53km remaining.  Dion Smith was sat at the back of the Mitchelton-SCOTT train, ready to launch at the sprint later if the opportunity arose.  Also towards the front was Chris Froome of Team Sky, putting in domestique duties and hoping that potentially Egan Bernal would be able to step up a couple of places on the podium.

Crashes littered the day’s racing with a big group of riders going down in the peloton approaching 40km to go.  Among the victims were Romain Bardet, Tony Gallopin, Simon Geschke and Marc Soler.  Up ahead of the melee behind, however, Davide Formolo opted to try and chance his arm solo.  

Attacks predictably flew from the GC contenders who wanted to wrestle the lead off of Lopez.  Nairo Quintana was in on the action, so too Simon Yates, Michael Woods, Andrey Zeits of Astana and Ivan Sosa of Team Sky.  The pace in the peloton was taken up by Astana, who couldn’t afford to give too much rope to Lopez’s rivals.

The group was eventually brought back, but then with 22km to go the Yates brothers – Adam and Simon – went on the offensive.  Formolo was still riding strong and driving onward solo, while the Yates brothers caught up with Bevin and Knox who jumped onto their move and pursuit of the breakaway rider who was still over a minute ahead.

Simon Yates, Bevin and Knox eventually dropped back, but by now Yates was 43 seconds up on Miguel Angel Lopez with 12km to go.  As it stood Yates would win the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya; although Formolo was still ahead.  On the entrance to the final lap of the stage Formolo was still pressing on with a 42 seconds advantage over Yates; while Astana’s peloton were closing the gap to the Brit.

With 4.3km to go Alejandro Valverde was on the offensive in support of Lopez, bridging the gap to Yates to 12 seconds and almost securing the overall victory for Lopez.  But then Bernal attacked and forced Lopez to lead the chase across.  Formolo was looking more and more like a stage winner but behind him Lopez was meeting every attack thrown at him.

Up ahead though the stage belonged to the Italian and Davide Formolo more than earned his stage win, sprinting to the line to claim the stage by 51 seconds, while a late attack from Enric Mas gave him second place ahead of Maximilian Schachmann.  Dion Smith had done exceptionally well to keep with the GC contenders throughout and in the sprint for 4th place he managed to see off Valverde, Bernal, Yates, Quintana and co.


Overall the win belonged to Miguel Angel Lopez who took the race title ahead of Adam Yates and Egan Bernal.

Stage results:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1FORMOLODavideITA       BORA – HANSGROHE3:19:41
2MAS NICOLAUEnricESP       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 3:20:32
3SCHACHMANNMaximilianGER       BORA – HANSGROHE3:20:34
4SMITHDionNZL       MITCHELTON – SCOTT3:20:36
5VALVERDEAlejandroESP       MOVISTAR TEAM3:20:36
6BERNAL GOMEZEgan ArleyCOL       TEAM SKY3:20:36
7YATESAdamGBR       MITCHELTON – SCOTT3:20:36
8QUINTANANairoCOL       MOVISTAR TEAM3:20:36
9KRUIJSWIJKStevenNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA3:20:36
10WOODSMichaelCAN       EF EDUCATION FIRST3:20:36
OTHERS




30BEVINPatrickNZL       CCC TEAM3:22:06

MITRIJamesNZL       BURGOS – BHDNF

General classification:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1LOPEZ MORENOMiguel AngelCOL       ASTANA PRO TEAM29:14:17
2YATESAdamGBR       MITCHELTON – SCOTT29:14:31
3BERNAL GOMEZEgan ArleyCOL       TEAM SKY29:14:34
4QUINTANANairoCOL       MOVISTAR TEAM29:14:42
5KRUIJSWIJKStevenNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA29:15:13
6WOODSMichaelCAN       EF EDUCATION FIRST29:15:59
7MAJKARafalPOL       BORA – HANSGROHE29:16:44
8MARTINGuillaumeFRA       WANTY – GOBERT CYCLING TEAM29:16:58
9MAS NICOLAUEnricESP       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 29:17:06
10VALVERDEAlejandroESP       MOVISTAR TEAM29:17:19
OTHERS




32BEVINPatrickNZL       CCC TEAM29:34:48
54SMITHDionNZL       MITCHELTON – SCOTT29:51:04

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