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“That would be very pretentious of me to say that I am the fastest rider. There are a lot of other guys who have done great things this season, like Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Alexander Kristoff...

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AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ALBERTO CONTADOR

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ALEXEI TSATEVICH

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CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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CARLOS BARBERO

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CHRIS FROOME

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DARYL IMPEY

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DAVIDE CIMOLAI

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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DIMENSION DATA

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EF EDUCATION FIRST

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ENRICO GASPAROTTO

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GIANNI MEERSMAN

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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JULIAN DAVID ARREDONDO

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MIGUEL ANGEL LOPEZ

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NACER BOUHANNI

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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NIKIAS ARNDT

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PHILIPPE GILBERT

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ROBERT GESINK

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SEBASTIEN MINARD

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SIMON GERRANS

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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THOMAS DE GENDT

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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VOLTA A CATALUNYA

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WANTY - GROUPE GOBERT

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22.03.2016 @ 21:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) confirmed his status as the fastest rider in the Volta a Catalunya by claiming another dominant sprint win of stage 2 of the Spanish race. After another great lead-out by Geoffrey Soupe, he easily held off Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) in the final dash to the line, with Philippe Gilbert (BMC) crossing the line as a distant third. With the win, Bouhanni extended his overall lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Nacer Bouhanni: It would be pretentious to say that I am the fastest sprinter in the worl

“I was feeling sick during the stage, my stomach hurt,” Bouhanni told Cyclingnews and Spaziociclismo “It was tough, but I was able to hold out to the end.

 

“At the start of the stage, my stomach hurt, and I had to visit the race doctor. Fortunately I got better during the race and I hope that continues in the days to come.

 

“There was a big right-hand around a kilometre and a half to go, and that’s where we started to up the effort. From there on I had been on my leadout man Geoffrey Soupe’s wheel on the ideal position and I could stay with him all the way to the finish.”

 

“It was a very fast downhill into the finishing straight, but then there was a kick up with 100 metres to go, which made it trickier to judge. But I went for it with 200 metres from the finish and then I could hold on to the end.

 

“In the final kilometers I was not in the ideal position. With 5km to go, the team made a great effort to recover positions. The finish was very complicated, but was delivered to perfection and managed to hold on to get the win.

 

“These are important victories, and after what happened in Sanremo it’s been good to concentrate on racing and going for wins on the bike.

 

“I didn’t ever say I was going to win three stages here, I said there were three chances of bunch sprints. That’s different. There might even be four. I have won two. I hope I can get through these two difficult stages and then go for a third win in the Volta a Catalunya.

 

“But there are a lot of top sprinters here, for example Ben Swift (Team Sky) has got second in Milano-Sanremo and has shown he can get through some really difficult, hilly terrain, and still be really fast for the bunch sprints. And there are others here but I think Ben Swift is the most dangerous

 

“That would be very pretentious of me to say that I am the fastest rider. There are a lot of other guys who have done great things this season, like Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) - lots of different people.

 

“All that’s happened is that I’ve been in good form since the start of the season, and I had Paris-Nice, Sanremo and the Volta a Catalunya as my objectives for this part of the year. After being in top condition here, my next goal is to be in the same form in the Tour de France.”

 

"This victory is very important for the team. This is my second win in a row, the fourth of the season. I started the season well and am very happy with that.

 

"There are three or four stages for the sprinters, but I am not necessarily able to win them all. I hope to get at least a third victory after the next two stages in the Pyrenees . There are a few sprinters who are able to beat me. Among them there is Ben Swift. He is a very dangerous opponent especially when the stage is harder when it comes to climbing.”

 

Gianni Meersman: There was nothing more to do against Bouhanni

In the final kilometers, Etixx – Quick-Step came to the head of the pack, helping Gianni Meersman find the best position to kick his sprint in the last 250 meters. Meersman, who came in Spain after notching a podium in last week's Handzame Classic, showed again his improving form, by finishing runner-up to Nacer Bouhanni, who landed his second victory in a row at the Volta a Catalunya. Besides Meersman, also Maxime Bouet had reasons to be satisfied after Tuesday's stage, because thanks to the bonus seconds he scored at the intermediate sprints, he made an important jump in the general classification, climbing to 6th place.

 

"Despite having big roads, the last 20 kilometers were pretty nervous, because of the road tunnels. The guys brought me to the front with 4 kilometers to go, and inside the final 1500 meters a right hand corner came up, and that's where I took Bouhanni's wheel. When he launched his sprint, I tried to pass him, but he was really strong. I finished second, but there was nothing more I could do, so I am happy with this result and with the great job of the team", said Gianni Meersman after the arrival in Olot.


Philippe Gilbert: I am happy to be able to breathe again

Philippe Gilbert has sprinted to third place on Stage 2 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in another bunch sprint won by Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis).

 

It’s a good sign of his form on the comeback from recent illness, Gilbert said.

 

“Yesterday I was suffering a bit as it was my first race since Paris-Nice. I’ve been training at home but without race speed so it’s a bit different. Yesterday I was suffering but I was still there, so I was happy to be there in a good position with one kilometer to go today,” Gilbert said.

 

“I was up there a bit too early so at 400m to go I decided to slow down a bit and take the risk, but in the end Bouhanni was just too fast.

 

"In the first stage I was bad. If you have been away for a while and you get back in competition, it is always something to get used to it again. I have done some good training, but you cannot compare it to a race. My physio did a good job and I'm also relieved that I can breathe again after my illness.”

 

 

Gilbert now sits in fifth place on the General Classification, 16 seconds behind race leader Bouhanni.

 

Tomorrow the peloton hit the first of the mountain stages with 172,1km, starting in Girona and finishing with a double ascent of the category 1 La Molina climb, on the cards. Gilbert will be working for BMC Racing Team’s two leaders, Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen.

 

“I knew there would be three of four stages in this race that were good for me. The next two days I’ll be riding in service of my teammates. It’s always a big motivation when you have guys like Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen in the team. We know they can do well, so we are all motivated to work hard.

 

Strong Alexey Tsatevich confirms form with another top 5 in Catalonia

The 96th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya continued with another group sprint in the final and Team KATUSHA’s Alexey Tsatevich was once again in the hunt for a win. Improving one spot from Monday’s outcome, Tsatevich sprinted in for fourth place in Olot after 178,7 km in the Catalan stage race.

 

”Today I felt much better than yesterday, so in the final my legs were really good and I felt like I could get a high speed. But this time my position was not the best one. I saw a group of riders almost break away with 400 meters to go, so I was forced to start my sprint immediately to catch them. I was able to come in front and to get a good position at that point. Later I tried to sprint again and I tried to pass Gilbert, but he boxed me in a little bit and there was no way for me to get around and I finished fourth. I hope I will have more chances after these next two days in mountains,” said Alexey Tsatevich.

 

Tsatevich currently holds tenth place at 20-seconds on the overall classification.

 

Carlos Barbero secures top 5 for Caja Rural in Catlonia

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA put in another good performance in Volta a Catalunya as Carlos Barbero finished fifth on Tuesday’s stage 2 of the Spanish World Tour race. Eduard Prades crossed the line in 14th place after helping to set up Barbero for the sprint. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) took his second stage win and increased his overall lead. Both Barbero and Prades are in the top15 in the general classification.
 
Carlos Barbero said: “The team was amazing today. They were supporting me throughout the entire stage. I felt good on the bike and this fifth place is a good sign. It’s a shame I couldn’t get the win but in the World Tour races it’s always difficult”.
 
On Wednesday, Volta a Catalunya continues with a hard day in the mountains. The uphill finish on La Molina will set the scene for the first big fight amongst the GC riders. After two good days of sprinting for the top positions, the Caja Rural - Seguros RGA riders are eager to show off the team colors in front once again.

 

Kiel Reijnen shows himself at the WorldTour level, Arredondo crashes out of GC contention

With fewer hills to climb and a dry, wide road to the finish, the 178.7-kilometer second day at the Volta a Catalunya was a more typical sprint stage and a feisty Kiel Reijnen punched his way into 6th place.

 

"Like yesterday [the sprint] was really chaotic, but for different reasons," gasped Reijnen, still breathing hard from the sprint. "I think because it was slight uphill the GC (general classification) riders were worried about time gaps so in the final kilometer a lot of the GC climbers were in the very front, and it makes it very difficult to find a good route to the line.

 

"In the end, after the last roundabout, a small gap opened up to the first seven or eight riders, and I had to close the gap. This took some energy out of my sprint.

 

“But the guys did a super job – Eugenio (Alafaci) was with me in the finale, and all day long the guys looked after me, so I wanted to make a good result for them.”

 

Trek-Segafredo brought a strong contingent of climbers for the hilly World Tour race, leaving Reijnen to mostly find his own way in the unruly bunch finishes.  Reijnen bettered his 11th place in stage one with a solid 6th place Tuesday, despite a less than ideal run-in. 

 

"Unfortunately, with that last little effort, the sprint was pretty long for me. I am happy that we improved on yesterday, and we have one more good sprint left for the week, so I will try and get some rest in the mountains tomorrow," smiled Reijnen.

 

The race will favor the mountain goats in stage three and four as the Volta a Catalunya hits the high mountains. Trek-Segafredo will look to battle for stage wins and let the GC contenders fight a different war, more so after Julian Arredondo lost over four minutes with a small crash in the final kilometers.

 

"With five kilometers to go Julian crashed; it looked like he was the only one to go down and it was impossible for him to come back," explained director Alain Gallopin. 

 

"We decided to do the best we could today to help Kiel. I saw everyone helping, and in the end, those with experience brought him as far as possible. Eugenio did well, but what can we say? Bouhanni is very strong."

 

Verva-ActiveJet impresses in WorldTour debut in Catalonia

It was another place in the top 10 for the riders from VERVA ActiveJet. Pawel Franczak finishd ninth.

 

The riders from VERVA ActiveJet were extremely active from the start of the second stage. In each of the attacks, there were representative of the teams and eventually Kamil Gradek was in the break.

 

In the sprint, a moment of hesitation cost Franczak a few positions.

 

”The guys have done a good job for me. In the last kilometers I rode slowly on the wheel and did not have to waste energy before the finish. The finish was hard, because the highway was gently uphill all the time. The last 500 meters did not quite work out for me. I was in a good position but a moment of hesitation and a slowdown in the field meant that I lost some speed and it was hard to accelerate. But I am happy to be in the top 10. We use our chances and we're visible,” said Franczak.

 

A second top 10 for Reza in Catalonia
The FDJ team was satisfied with their stage as Kevin Reza finished in the top 10. He could have been in the top 5 if he had not been boxed toward the barriers in the last 100 meters.

 

"Overall, explains sports director Thierry Bricaud," the riders who had suffered a bit on Monday did much better today. Benoît Vaugrenard who in the evening had a discussion with Tosatto (Tinkoff) during which he was very firm against those who speak badly of the French riders, has pack pain after his crash the previous day but it does not handicap him too much. Seb Chavanel and Lorrenzo Manzin were on a better day. "

 

A 2 km from the finish, Cédric Pineau and Arnaud Courteille positioned Kevin Reza in the front, maybe a little too early but at the start of the sprint, he was in very good position. He had to stop pedaling 100 meters from the line to avoid a crash.

 

Thomas De Gendt: I love to be on the attack

The second stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya took the riders from Mataró to Olot. Four riders attacked in the beginning of the stage, Thomas De Gendt didn’t hesitate to join the break. The four leaders remained ahead for almost the entire day but they never obtained a big advantage, the gap was controlled by Cofidis. At 28 kilometres from the finish De Gendt left his companions behind. He remained ahead for a few kilometres but eventually he was caught while entering the final fifteen kilometres.

 

Thomas De Gendt is the new leader in the sprints classification and he’s also third on GC, at fourteen seconds of leader Bouhanni.

 

"I love being on the attack,” De Gendt told Spaziociclismo. “Many want to be there, sometimes it's easier to be on the attack than in the peloton. Today I thought it was possible to make it, but we were only four riders and Cofidis reduced the gap all day.

 

"I wanted to try to stay in front as long as possible not to get dropped on the climb. The finale was really tough with the headwind but I wanted to resist as much as possible.

 

“I am now third in the standings. Gaining a few seconds was useful because tomorrow we will have car number three and this will be positive for Valls, Declerq and Marczynski. We aim to make a good GC with them and tomorrow we will help them. Then I sincerely hope to survive the final climb.”

 

Poor positioning costly for Gerrans and Impey in Catalonia

ORICA-GreenEDGE rider Daryl Impey finished in 13th place on today's stage two of the WorldTour race Volta Catalunya.

 

After a steadier day compared to yesterday's stage, the peloton raced along wide, open roads during the final kilometres into Olot. The day concluded with another fast, hectic bunch sprint with Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) taking the stage win for the second day.

 

"It was a really cruisy day," Sport director Neil Stephens explained. "I think that showed at the finish. It's unfortunate it was a bit too cruisy, as there was a lot of fresh people, a lot of people wanting to get to the finish.

"We were really well placed, the boys tried to defend a good position coming into the finish but unfortunately with just over one kilometre to go they were swamped and that was where our race was over.

 

"Basically Impey and Simon Gerrans were on their own and way too far back. We didn't do the job very well today. We tried but it didn't come together, maybe because we have a little bit of inexperience with guys who are usually not used to doing that role, but they tried to do it and did their best."

 

With the first two stages following lumpy terrain then finishing with flat finals, tomorrow the race heads into the mountains where the general classification is likely to be shaken up.

 

"Tomorrow and the next days are really quite hilly, so it's a completely different type of race. We will probably see the big team's like Sky, Cannondale and Movistar try to take it up. We are going to give it a good shot over the next few days in the mountain."

 

Sky: Tomorrow it is all about Froome but Poels and Thomas will be options too

Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Wout Poels secured top-20 finishes on the second stage of the Volta a Catalunya to remain in the hunt for the overall win in Spain.

 

In a fast last five kilometres the trio moved to the front of the peloton and stayed high up in the bunch as race leader Nacer Bouhanni won his second sprint in as many days.

 

Ben Swift, who finished second behind Bouhanni on day one, was unable to fully launch his sprint but remains second overall, 14 seconds back on the Frenchman.

 

The team worked hard in the closing stages and were prevalent at the front of the bunch as the riders headed towards the finish in Olot, with Ian Boswell, Vasil Kiryienka and Nicolas Roche all putting in big stints.

 

Sport Director Nico Portal was pleased with how the day unfolded ahead of the tougher tests to come.

 

He said: "Today was good, really good. The plan was to go through the day without any problems and save energy for tomorrow. We have two hard stages coming up. Sadly Swifty had a free card for the sprint, but it didn't work out as we wanted it too."

 

Stage three sees the riders hit the first notable climbs and Portal is optimistic.

 

He added: "Tomorrow we need to be set and ready for the GC fight. It's all about Froomey, but we have Wout and G as options. It's a big day.

 

"The guys are looking good after Paris-Nice but we'll have to see how G climbs with Froomey. It's going to be good. Chris will want to have a go to see where he is after two months without any racing.

 

"Our plan? If we have any chance to build time gaps we will go full gas."

 

Davide Cimolai misses out in Catalonia bunch sprint

LAMPRE-MERIDA focused the attention the necessary support to sprinter Davide Cimolai. After a good approach to the final part of the course during which the team and last laed-out man Matteo Bono did a good work, Cimolai obtained 17th place in the sprint.


Cimolai found himself to far back with 1000m to go and consequently, he was forced to try to come from afar which was too difficult.

GC leader Louis Meintjes is 58th overall at 20″.

 

“Comparing today's performance to the one of the first stage, we can appreciate the fact that we raced as a more united group and the task of giving good support to Cimolai was achieved," sports director Orlando Maini explained. However, just before entering the final 1000m, we too far back which was the main limit to our sprint.


"Tomorrow and on Thursday the stages will finish on a summit, we’ll rely on our climbers Meintjes, Grmay, Durasek and Koshevoy."

 

Nairo Quintana safely through another day in Catalonia

Life carried on with a weight even harder to bear for the Movistar Team and the whole peloton in the Volta a Catalunya on Tuesday. The race covered its second stage – 179km between Mataró and Olot, with Bouhanni (COF) again victorious at the bunch sprint finish – with its mind always put on the disgraceful incidents that happened in Brussels early on Tuesday morning.

 

Anacona, Soler, Erviti, Fernández and José Herrada abstracted themselves to do their best again, leading Nairo Quintana to a comfortable 20th place before the first mountain stage on Wednesday. Coubet, Toses and two climbs of La Molina, all of them Cat-1 for a total 172km, will start defining the GC outcome before Thursday’s showdown in Port Ainé.

 

Sebastien Minard prepares for Flander at the Volta a Catalunya

"Friday, I spent my day in the bed. I had a sore throat. Yesterday I did not have a good feeling but today I felt it was starting to come back. I want to finish the Tour of Catalonia in peak form and then do a good Tour of Flanders which is my personal goal of the season. I go into a classics period, it is always important to me and for the team. Before two big days, I am reassured.

 

“The work of everyone is important. We have beautiful cards with Romain [Bardet] and Domenico [Pozzovivo]. There's work to do, but I'm confident and I hope we will be at the top of the rankings.”

 

Alberto Contador: My health is getting better and better

Stage 2 of the Volta a Catalunya went to plan for Tinkoff today, as the team kept their leader safe over a fast stage, finishing in the town of Olot with a bunch sprint. The GC contenders, having kept safe in the first two stages, will relish the prospect of taking on the big mountains in tomorrow’s route.

 

Starting from the town of Mataró on the Mediterranean coast, the second day of the Volta a Catalunya took place over a 178.7km course. Fairly flat, except for the first category Alt de Els Angels, the route invited an early escape that stayed away for much of the stage, but with a final short climb to the finish, and a downhill final few hundred metres, the stage was a perfect opportunity for the sprinters. The Tinkoff riders came over the line with the bunch, with most of the team taking the same time as the sprinters.

 

Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, was please the team got through the day without any problems.

 

“It was another pretty straight forward day today, with no surprises and everyone getting through safe. With the stages to come we didn't want to use too much energy, so it was a day of keeping out of the wind and looking after Alberto before tomorrow and making sure that we didn't lose any time.”

 

While the breakaway riders weren’t a threat to the GC, Lotto-Soudal’s De Gendt was able to stay clear until the 164km mark, which made the peloton work harder to get a sprint finish, De Jongh observed.

 

“After a small break went clear Cofidis took responsibility and won the stage again so hats off to them. And our guys did a good job in sticking to what they had to do.”

 

Up until now, the GC contenders have been biding their time in the peloton, waiting for an opportunity to create the bigger time gaps. Tomorrow’s stage takes in four first category climbs, as well as an uphill finish, taking place over a 172.1km parcours. Ahead of tomorrow’s stage Contador felt his form after Paris-Nice would be tested properly in the mountains.

 

"I feel in good form, even if it's too early to draw conclusions after two flat days. Tomorrow, a different race starts, the mountain race where we will see the first gaps. I'll have to see how much I have recovered after Paris-Nice and how I feel. My health is getting better, and that is positive. I still feel a bit congested but it is retreating and I hope it won't cause any problems. La Molina is unpredictable and you never know what will happen. It isn't an excessively demanding climb and I think the gaps there will be very slim."

 

As the race prepared to enter the mountains, De Jongh was keen to see how the race would unfold on stage 3.

 

“Tomorrow we will see what happens - it's the first stage where the GC riders will play their hands, and we're ready for this with Alberto. The guys are motivated, only Pawel Poljanski is still suffering from a bit of sickness but we're hoping that he'll fight through and come good for the second half of the week. So we're just looking forward to tomorrow's stage now.”

 

Robert Gesink in a good position for first mountain stage in Catalonia

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s  riders finished in the bunch in the second stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, but their thoughts were with those involved in the Brussels attacks. Robert Gesink placed 24th in the stage won by Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis).

 

“I took a look at my phone several times to see if there was some more news about what happened in Belgium,” Sports Director Addy Engels said after the stage. “The news impacted us, of course, both before and after the stage. Thankfully, they just got on with their jobs during the race.”

 

The stage ended up in a bunch sprint. No less than 164 riders finished in the same time, including all the Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s riders.

 

“It went uphill during the final, but it definitely wasn’t a real climb,” Engels continued. “The road was wide and it wasn’t steep at all, so there wasn’t space to make a difference. It was quite easy today. Our most important task was to bring Robert Gesink in front of the peloton. He was together with Bert-Jan Lindeman, and it went smoothly. Also yesterday.”

 

The team turned its attention to Wednesday’s stage.

 

“The upcoming two days will be decisive for the general classification,” Engels added. “We’re in a good place with Robert Gesink and that gives us a good feeling about tomorrow, when we finish on La Molina. That final climb isn’t spectacular. I’m expecting some differences tomorrow, but probably the biggest gaps will happen on Thursday.”

 

Miguel Angel Lopez feeling better after surprise time loss in Catalonia opener

“Today it has was more quiet than yesterday and I had good feelings from my legs,” said Miguel Angel Lopez on the way back to the hotel.

 

“Probably yesterday I suffered from some jetlag back from Colombia and probably I was also tired after the long trip from home but today my sensations were better and I feel confident about tomorrow’s super hard stage in the mountains.

 

“The winter training has been so good, the first responses from the races have been good (in San Luis and Malaysia) so I’m looking forward to seeing how I’ll be in the next two mountain stages here at Catalunya. For sure the level of the contenders is much higher but I hope to be ready to do good even here.”

 

Dimension Data looking forward to the mountains in Catalonia

It would not be a day well suited for the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders and so their climbers conserved energy in the pack for the better part of the 178km stage. It was only in the final 10km, once the break had been caught and the peloton started speeding up, that the African Team moved to the front in order to stay out of trouble and keep the GC aspirations intact.

 

Cameron Meyer did have to relinquish his king of the mountains jersey he pulled on yesterday to Boris Dron (Wanty Groupe Gobert) but all the African Team riders got through the stage in good shape and are motivated for the first big climbing day at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya tomorrow.

 

Sports director Alex Sans Vega said:
 

“It was a bunch sprint today and we don't have a sprinter at the race so we focused more on saving energy for the coming two days, the mountain stages. Coming to the final, our guys for the GC, Merhawi Kudus, Kanstanstin Siutsou and Igor Anton were well protected and they did not lose any time. We are happy to get into the mountains now for the next two stages. ”

 

Nikias Arndt misses the power for tough sprint in Catalonia

Team Giant-Alpecin were well represented at the front in the finale but didn’t have the pace to match the other sprint trains lining up for the final kick. Nikias Arndt finished in 39th place andWarren Barguil finished safely in the bunch as he continued to build up his racing form.

 

Coach Morten Bennekou said: “It was a fast and hard stage from the start. Unfortunately, there was no top finisher today from the team. Our goal was to protect Warren Barguil and towards the finale, we would try and put Nikias in a good position for the sprint.

 

“We had a good plan for the finale and we also knew the road really well but with 2km to go with the team in a good position, we lacked the firepower in the sprint finish and we were overtaken before the last three crucial roundabouts in the last 1500m.”

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