Stickybottle

Team Sky’s Bernal (21) matches Valverde as Dan Martin falters

Posted on: March 22nd, 2018

Alejandro Valverde takes the stage ahead of Team Sky’s new 21-year-old Egan Bernal. Dan Martin would lose time, saying he is missing something at the moment.

 

Dan Martin’s hopes of a strong general classification result in Volta Catalunya took a hammering today as he lost time.

Movistar dominated the finale; Nairo Quintana and Paris-Nice winner Marc Soler working for Alejandro Valverde.

And at the finish Valverde took his second stage win. As a result he also regained the race lead.

Only Team Sky’s 21-year-old Colombian Egan Bernal could match Valverde all the way to the line.

That pair would finish together at the end of 170.8km from Llanars to La Molian. Even Quintana relinquished six seconds to them at the death.

For Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates); he hit the rocks with just over 1km remaining.

The aforementioned Movistar trio took control in the testing final 7km after Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) had led solo for a long time.

And only Bernal and Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) could match Valverde, Soler and Quintana.

 

The riders head up into the snow, first Chaves and then the rest of the race.

 

Soler was the first to be distanced in that five-man lead group. And chasing them was a select group featuring the remaining top riders; Dan Martin among them.

After Soler had worked for his team and slipped back, Latour would follow. That left just Valverde, Bernal and Quintana at the head of affairs.

Quintana would put in one last dig just before the finish before pulling over and watching Bernal try to sprint away.

But Valverde comfortably stayed with him and easily passed him to win. Quintana rounded out the podium on the day.

Latour hung on for a deserved fourth place, some 23 seconds behind the leading pair.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was next, another 30 seconds back. He would finish with Soler and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

And then came the rest of the chase group all strung out. Martin was towards the rear of those; placing 19th and losing 1:26 to Valverde.

 

 

Nicolas Roche’s BMC Racing team leader Tejay van Garderen did only slightly better; taking 14th and losing 1:05 to the stage victor.

Roche himself came home in a group almost 22 minutes down; riding to finish after having worked for Van Garderen earlier.

Philip Deignan (Team Sky) and Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) were a little further back. They both finished in the same group 24:18 down.

There were seven abandons on the road today and another seven riders were outside the time limit.

With three stages remaining Valverde leads by 19 seconds from Bernal.

Quintana is next, at 26 seconds. And Latour is 4th some 48 seconds down on the leader. Martin is now 19th overall and has 1:54 to make up on Valverde.

It was a disappointing ride for him, especially as he had won this stage five years ago on his way to overall victory in the race.

 

 

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