Adam Yates wins Volta a Catalunya as Ineos Grenadiers complete podium clean sweep

0
7
 Richie Porte (left to right), Adam Yates and Geraint Thomas - Adam Yates wins Volta a Catalunya as Ineos Grenadiers complete podium clean sweep - GETTY IMAGES

Richie Porte (left to right), Adam Yates and Geraint Thomas – Adam Yates wins Volta a Catalunya as Ineos Grenadiers complete podium clean sweep – GETTY IMAGES

Sunday March 28 — Barcelona to Barcelona, 133km

Britain’s Adam Yates wrapped up his first overall victory for new team Ineos Grenadiers as the British team locked out the podium at the Volta a Catalunya.

Ineos Grenadiers were in complete control of the race for the final four days, after Yates took the lead for the first time with a stage win on Wednesday, winning the climb up to the ski station of Vallter 2000.

Heading into the final day, a 133km circuit around Barcelona, the 28-year-old held a 45-second lead over team-mate Richie Porte, with Welshman Geraint Thomas a further four seconds back.

Stage seven was won by breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) who got himself into a big move before going clear alongside Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious). The Belgian then rode clear of the Slovenian on the final ascent of the finishing circuit, soloing to the line.

Behind them, Thomas hit the front of the bunch on the final climb, preventing any attacks and helping to secure the win for Yates, who has moved from BikeExchange this season.

Yates’ twin Simon, who still rides for the Australian team, was ninth overall at 1min 32sec.

It was the first time Ineos Grenadiers have assumed all three podium places in a stage race since the outfit were formed as Team Sky back in 2010. “It was the perfect week really,” Yates said. “We started the race with big ambitions but I don’t think any of us expected to take all three podium positions.

“It’s pretty special. To win so early in the season it’s a really special feeling. To share the podium with two of your team-mates is even better.”

Volta a Catalunya — selected final general classificationVolta a Catalunya — selected final general classification

Volta a Catalunya — selected final general classification

Volta a Catalunya | March 22-28, 2021Volta a Catalunya | March 22-28, 2021

Volta a Catalunya | March 22-28, 2021

Stage seven: Sagan takes ‘surprise’ win as Yates retains lead

Saturday March 27 — Tarragona to Mataró, 193.8km

Peter Sagan claims 'surprise' stage win as Adam Yates continues to lead Volta a Catalunya - GETTY IMAGESPeter Sagan claims 'surprise' stage win as Adam Yates continues to lead Volta a Catalunya - GETTY IMAGES

Peter Sagan claims ‘surprise’ stage win as Adam Yates continues to lead Volta a Catalunya – GETTY IMAGES

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won a frantic penultimate stage of the Volta a Catalunya, showing a timely bit of form ahead of next weekend’s Tour of Flanders.

The three-time world champion, who is returning from a bout of Covid, beat Daryl Impey (Israel StartUp Nation) in a sprint in Mataró after the day’s break was caught in the last couple of hundred metres of the 194km run along the Costa Brava. It was Sagan’s first victory since stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia last October.

“It’s come earlier than I expected after Covid,” he said. “That’s why I am very happy and surprised by this. When I finish this race it’s about recovering and we will see in the Tour of Flanders how I feel.”

There was no change to the general classification with Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) continuing to lead by 45 seconds from team mate Richie Porte and by 49 seconds from team mate Geraint Thomas.

The final day sees the riders negotiate a circuit around Montjuic in Barcelona. Yates said he had appreciated the chance to rest and recover after some difficult days in the mountains.

“It was good, it was the first day we didn’t have to work or pull or do anything really,” said the Briton, who has joined Ineos this season, leaving his twin Simon at BikeExchange. “It was about staying in position and staying out of trouble. It was a welcome rest, because like I’ve been saying for a few days, the Barcelona stage tomorrow is going to be super tough.

“Once you get to the circuit it’s relentless. You go up, then down a tricky descent. You don’t really get time to recover – then you’re already on to the next climb. It’s a real tough circuit. I’ve done it before so I know just how hard it is.”

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage sixVolta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage six

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage six

Stage six: Kämna’s solo effort propels him to stage victory

Friday March 26 — La Pobla de Segur to Manresa, 201.1km​

Lennard Kämna escaped solo and took stage five of the Volta a Catalunya - EPALennard Kämna escaped solo and took stage five of the Volta a Catalunya - EPA

Lennard Kämna escaped solo and took stage five of the Volta a Catalunya – EPA

Lennard Kämna escaped solo and took stage five of the Volta a Catalunya as the top 10 of the general classification remained unchanged.

Britain’s Adam Yates continues to lead the race by 45 seconds from Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Richie Porte, with another Ineos rider, Geraint Thomas, a further four seconds back.

Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) had tried for a stage win on Thursday, putting in a huge effort before being caught with 14km remaining of the final climb.

This time, on a medium mountain stage tailor-made for a breakaway win, the young German left it much later to make his move, riding away from the break on the final descent to Manresa and profiting from a disorganised chase behind to win by 39 seconds from Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Nippo).

Back in the peloton, Ineos controlled things all day as they kept their trio of riders in the podium spots.

“I’m very happy with this victory,” Kämna said. “Yesterday, I tried this already, but I went a little bit early. I didn’t have the best legs in the first part of the stage today and I just made it to the group. However, on the last climb I was feeling strong again, so I gave it another shot and I’m happy that in the end, it worked out.”

The race finishes in Barcelona on Sunday.

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage fiveVolta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage five

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage five

Stage five: Chaves wins as Adam Yates retains lead

Thursday March 25 — Ripoll to Port Ainé, 166.5km

Esteban Chaves wins stage four as Adam Yates retains Volta a Catalunya lead - GETTY IMAGESEsteban Chaves wins stage four as Adam Yates retains Volta a Catalunya lead - GETTY IMAGES

Esteban Chaves wins stage four as Adam Yates retains Volta a Catalunya lead – GETTY IMAGES

Esteban Chaves rode to a popular victory on stage four at the Volta a Catalunya as Adam Yates retained his 45-second lead over his Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Richie Porte in the general classification.

Ineos riders now occupy the top three spots on general classification with Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) losing time on the final 18.4km climb to Port Ainé. Geraint Thomas, who was third over the line on Thursday, rose to third overall at 49 seconds. Ineos have selected a very strong team for the race.

The day belonged to Chaves (BikeExchange), though. A former runner-up at the Giro d’Italia and a third-place finisher at the Vuelta a Espana (both in 2016), the Colombian has had a tough few years with injury and health issues, struggling to make an impact at grand tours apart from a couple of stage wins at the Giro.

His victory will give him confidence that he can be a force again over three weeks. “I’m very happy,” said the 31-year-old. “I’ve started the season with good sensations. It’s been a tough few years, but the team, my friends and my family have all been a big support so it feels good. It gives me confidence going forward.”

After solo breakaway rider Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) was caught with 14km remaining of the final climb, a few riders tried their luck fired before Chaves escaped with 7km remaining.

The BikeExchange rider had started the day at 1min 21secs, down in ninth place overall, and was allowed to build a lead of around 20secs.

Ineos always had control of the situation though. Porte took over the pacing with 2km remaining, slowly bringing the gap down to Chaves. But the Colombian managed to to hold off the chasing group of favourites, with Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Thomas crossing seven seconds later.

“It was a really long way. But I have nothing to lose and everything to win. I was only ninth on GC so I had nothing to lose by trying. But the legs were really good.

“The last 500m were dreadful. After these last few years this is like payback. A dream. I just need to keep working, keep believing and keep dreaming.”

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage fourVolta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage four

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage four

Stage three: Yates takes race lead and his first Ineos win

Wednesday March 24 — Canal Olimpic de Catalunya to Vallter 2000, 203.1km

Adam Yates profited from strong work from his Ineos Grenadiers team-mates - David Ramos Adam Yates profited from strong work from his Ineos Grenadiers team-mates - David Ramos 

Adam Yates profited from strong work from his Ineos Grenadiers team-mates – David Ramos

Britain’s Adam Yates claimed his first victory for new team Ineos Grenadiers on day three of the Volta a Catalunya, taking the lead of the race in the process.

The 28 year-old, who has joined Ineos Grenadiers from Mitchelton-Scott this year, won the climb up to the ski station of Vallter 2000 in convincing fashion, counter-attacking over the top of a group which included Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) with Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma).

Yates, who profited from strong work from his Ineos Grenadiers team-mates, ended up winning the stage by 13 seconds from former team-mate Esteban Chaves, who attacked out of the peloton and nearly bridged across to the Briton.

Yates now leads the general classification by 45 seconds from his Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Richie Porte, with previous leader Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick Step) slipping back to third overall at 50 seconds.

Welshman Geraint Thomas is fourth at 53 seconds, meaning Ineos Grenadiers riders occupy three of the top four spots.

Chris Froome (Israel Start-up Nation) found the going tough once again, getting dropped on the final climb.

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage threeVolta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage three

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage three

Stage two: Dennis powers to victory as Almeida takes lead

Tuesday March 23 — Banyoles, 18.5km (time trial)

Rohan Dennis - EPARohan Dennis - EPA

Rohan Dennis – EPA

Rohan Dennis took his first win of the season on Tuesday when the Ineos Grenadiers rider blasted his way around the lumpy 18.5-kilometre time trial course in Banyoles to secure stage two at the Volta a Catalunya.

“It’s really great to be back on the top step,” Dennis said after securing his first win since taking the world time trial title in Harrogate in 2019 with a time of 22min 27sec, clocking an average speed of 49.443km/h.

Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), the French time trial champion, completed the course 5sec slower than Dennis, while his Portuguese team-mate Joao Almeida was third fastest, at 28sec. Almeida, who led last year’s Giro d’Italia for 15 days, took the leader’s jersey off the shoulders of Andreas Kron (Lotto-Soudal) and now holds the narrowest of leads — just 1sec — over Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), while Luis León Sánchez (Astana-Premier Tech) is third overall 3sec off the pace.

Adam Yates moved up to fifth on general classification after finishing the time trial in seventh place on what was a good day for British team Ineos Grenadiers who had four riders in the top 10. Riding in only his second race for Ineos Grenadiers following the close season transfer from Mitchelton-Scott, Yates is their highest placed rider on general classification, while team-mate Richie Porte is seventh on the same time. Geraint Thomas, meanwhile, moved up 22 places to eighth, at 19sec.

Chris Froome (Israel Start-up Nation) who started the day 8min 40sec off the lead in 97th place, was again off the pace finishing his time trial in 79th spot, 2min 5sec behind former team-mate Dennis. The four-time Tour de France winner now trails race leader Almeida by 9min 51sec.

Over in Italy, Mark Cavendish took the leader’s jersey at Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali following day one of the five-day race. In what was a split stage, the Briton finished second to Jakub Mareczko (Vini Zabu) in the morning’s short race before on Tuesday afternoon his Deceuninck-Quick Step squad finished third in the team time trial, just 2sec adrift of Israel Start-up Nation and 1sec behind Astana-Premier Tech.

Cavendish takes a 2sec lead into Wednesday’s 163km second stage from Riccione to Sogliano al Rubicone thanks, largely, to the time bonus he earned for his second runners-up spot of the season. In a statement from his Deceuninck-Quick Step team, Cavendish said: “Two podiums in a day and the leader’s jersey here, it’s not too bad. Though we just missed the wins, I am extremely proud of our five-man group here.

“The lads looked after me in the morning and I was disappointed not to repay their hard work with a victory. But then, in the afternoon, we committed against the odds in the team time trial. I couldn’t be happier to at least get to lead the race after day one, especially as it’s the first time in four years that I lead a stage race. Now some hilly stages await and we’re motivated to work hard for our GC [general classification] guys.”

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage twoVolta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage two

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage two

Stage one: Froome drops like a stone as Kron takes victory

Monday March 22 — Calella to Calella, 178.4km

Chris Froome — Chris Froome dropped and loses over eight minutes on stage one at Volta a Catalunya - GETTY IMAGESChris Froome — Chris Froome dropped and loses over eight minutes on stage one at Volta a Catalunya - GETTY IMAGES

Chris Froome — Chris Froome dropped and loses over eight minutes on stage one at Volta a Catalunya – GETTY IMAGES

Chris Froome endured a chastening day on Monday when the four-time Tour de France winner was dropped on the final climb of the first stage at the Volta a Catalunya, before rolling over the finishing line 8min 30sec behind the winner and 8min 14sec adrift of the main contenders.

Competing in his second race for Israel Start-up Nation following his move from Ineos Grenadiers, Froome, 35, told reporters on Monday he had just returned from an altitude camp and was not expecting to be challenging in Spain, but was “hoping to see some progression”.

During last month’s UAE Tour, Froome laboured before finishing 22 minutes behind Tadej Pogacar leaving many questioning his ability to win a record-equalling fifth Tour. Following a career-threatening crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, Froome has struggled to regain the form that made him the most successful grand tour rider of his generation.

The latest setback for Froome came as Spanish team Movistar put riders on the front of the peloton on the category one Port de Santa Fe del Montseny climb. As the pace increased a number of fastmen, including Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), were dropped, as was Froome who lost contact shortly beyond the summit of the relatively benign looking climb.

Andreas Kron, meanwhile, took the biggest prize of his career when he outmuscled Spanish champion Luis León Sánchez to win a sprint finish from a four-man break at the end of a hilly stage in the week-long race.

Kron, a first-year neo-pro with Lotto-Soudal, had previously won just one race at the Tour de Luxembourg, however the 22-year-old announced himself by beating Sánchez (Astana-Premier Tech), 37, while Rémy Rochas (Cofidis) was third, Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) fourth.

Geraint Thomas, who is riding as part of a strong looking seven-man Ineos Grenadiers team, featuring Richard Carapaz, Richie Porte, Adam Yates, Rohan Dennis, Jonathan Castroviejo and Luke Rowe, finished safely in the bunch and goes into Tuesday’s time trial on the same time as the bulk of the general classification contenders, 26sec adrift of Kron.

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage oneVolta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage one

Volta a Catalunya — selected standings after stage one