Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won his second stage of the week at Volta a Catalunya, claiming stage 5 in a late-race attack on Friday.
The 195-kilometer stage was a mostly downhill route from Alp to Valls, but it did offer a category-two climb in the final 15 kilometers. In the finale, Valverde launched a solo move to win the day.
“When I saw a gap, I dug. I was able to leave them behind and snatch those five more seconds,” Valverde said.
“I would like to ride like this until the Ardennes and this year will be the first time I go to the Tour of Flanders,” he said. I want to get to know it and I would like to do well, but obviously it is just to try it out.”
Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) finished second, and Astana’s Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) sprinted to third ahead of Richie Porte (Sky).
Porte and Valverde were among the beneficiaries when strong winds split the peloton into three groups with just under 50 kilometers to go. Overnight leader Bart de Clercq (Lotto-Soudal) was unable to stay with the leaders. Valverde was always well-positioned at the front of the leading group and made his successful break for the line three kilometers from the finish.
“It was a really beautiful day for all of us,” said Valverde. “We knew there was going to be some wind in the finale, the whole team was attentive and always riding on the front, and we decided to accelerate. We were able to make the gap, left De Clercq and Martin behind, and also cooperated well with the other teams, since we all had an interest to leave the rivals behind — we really pushed at 100 percent.”
Porte now leads the overall, five seconds ahead of Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale). Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is seven seconds back in third. With his stage win and the time bonus, Valverde is now only 16 seconds behind in fourth overall.
“The race is a long way from over,” said Porte. “Not only for me, but for those behind me, as there are plenty of riders bunched together in the general classification looking for the bonus seconds.
“The next two days could be dangerous, but especially in Barcelona, it will be hard.”
On Saturday, the race will run 194.1km from Cervera to Port Aventura on a route that includes two categorized climbs.
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.