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Catalunya: Yates wins final stage, Valverde takes third career GC title

Simon Yates won the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya in solo fashion, as Alejandro Valverde took the overall title for the third time.

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Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) won a dramatic final day of racing at the Volta a Catalunya on Sunday in Barcelona. The Briton attacked on multiple occasions on the finishing circuit and he was able to take the stage victory with the assistance of his teammates. His aggressive racing moved him into fourth on the final general classification. Marc Soler (Movistar) finished second, 13 seconds behind Yates, and Pierre Latour (Ag2r-La Mondiale) finished third on the stage.

“It was very difficult and very fast from the beginning and the breakaway didn’t go until very late,” Yates said of the final stage. “I wasn’t sure if I could match the really fast guys here so I decided to try and go early and it paid off.

“I came here with big ambitions and I wanted to try and finish on the podium, but came a little bit short with fourth in the end. We kept trying every day and laid it on the line even with the sprints for Impey and we can be proud of that.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the Volta a Catalunya for the third time in his career on Sunday in Barcelona. The Spaniard successfully defended his overall lead on the final day circuit race. Movistar finished the race first and second in the overall standings with Nairo Quintana moving up one spot on the final day.

Sky’s Egan Bernal entered the day sitting second overall, but crashed on the last lap of the 6.6-kilometer circuit and not only lost his high overall placing, but also abandoned the race. Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Pierre LaTour snuck onto the final podium to finish third, 47 seconds down on Valverde.

Top-10 stage 7

  • 1. Simon Yates, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, in 03:28:04
  • 2. Marc Soler, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 0:13
  • 3. Pierre Latour, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 0:18
  • 4. Jarlinson Pantano, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:18
  • 5. Jay Mccarthy, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:18
  • 6. Matej Mohoric, BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 0:18
  • 7. Steven Kruijswijk, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 0:18
  • 8. Warren Barguil, FORTUNEO – SAMSIC, at 0:18
  • 9. Alejandro Valverde, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 0:18
  • 10. George Bennett, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 0:18

Top-10 final GC

  • 1. Alejandro Valverde, MOVISTAR TEAM, in 28:25:07
  • 2. Nairo Quintana, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 0:29
  • 3. Pierre Latour, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 0:47
  • 4. Simon Yates, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, at 0:47
  • 5. Marc Soler, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:10
  • 6. George Bennett, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 1:23
  • 7. Daniel Felipe Martinez, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST-DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 1:29
  • 8. Steven Kruijswijk, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 1:31
  • 9. Jesper Hansen, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:31
  • 10. Thibaut Pinot, GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 1:34

The final stage of the 2018 Volta a Catalunya was a circuit race around Barcelona. After tackling an opening loop of 102 kilometers, the peloton tackled eight laps of a difficult 6.6-kilometer circuit. The circuit included the tough Alt del Montjuic (2.4km @ 4.6%). The top of the climb was 3.8 kilometers from the finish line.

The opening loop around the outskirts of Barcelona was incredibly fast with a breakaway group not establishing itself until just a few kilometers before the riders crossed the finish line for the first time. A group of eight crossed the line with less than 53 kilometers to go, but eight laps of the brutal Montjuic circuit remained. Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac), Jhonatan Narvaez (Quick-Step Floors), Johannes Fröhlinger (Sunweb), Willem Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida), Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Pablo Torres (Burgos-BH), and Nick Shultz (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) formed the lead group.

Mitchelton-Scott’s Daryl Impey bridged to the leaders to create a powerful lead group. With many teams represented in the front group, Movistar was forced to control the peloton all by themselves.

Over the opening laps of the circuit, the race reshuffled and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Marc Soler (Movistar), Sergio Luis Henao (Sky) and Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) jumped across to the lead group. They joined Mohoric, Narvaez, Impey, and Shultz. The other breakaway riders had been dropped from the group.

Race leader Valverde attacked with 23 kilometers remaining and alarm bells rang among the other riders in the peloton. The Spaniard’s move created a big reaction from the peloton and not only was his move shut down, but the breakaway was caught as well. The race was all back together with just about three laps of the tough circuit remaining.

Entering the final two laps Soler, Latour, Carlos Verona (Mitchelton-Scott) and Yates found themselves out front. The quartet was dangerous with Yates trying to improve his overall placing. Verona buried himself for a lap and a half in support of Yates.

Yates timed his final lap attack to perfection and was able to descend to the stage victory. Soler rolled across the line second with Latour leading home the chasing group that contained race leader Valverde.

The final lap crash that occurred in the chase group happened at the front. The riders went down during a fast descent and immediately it was evident that Bernal was in a lot of pain. He abandoned the race and lost his second overall placing. He was also leading the Best Young Rider classification at the time.

Valverde took his third career Volta a Catalunya overall title by 29 seconds over Quintana. Latour just barely held on for third overall, actually finishing the race tied on time with Yates and taking the final podium place on countback.