Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) won the overall at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Sunday to start his season with a bang.
21-year-old Pogacar finished safely in the bunch to put the seal on the GC lead he claimed Saturday with his solo victory. Ahead of him, Dutch national champion Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) shaded the sprint win ahead of countryman Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma).
“It means a lot to me, especially after all the hard work we were doing in winter to prepare, to start this first race and to win, it’s incredible,” said Pogacar.
The short, flat final stage of the Spanish race was destined for a sprint finish, with the only unknown being which of the fastmen would take the spoils.
With the race all together going into the final three kilometers, Deceuninck-Quick-Step made their intentions clear, posting three riders on the front to control the pack. Israel Start-Up Nation tussled with the Belgian team as they looked to set up their sprinter Davide Cimolai.
Rounding the final succession of bends, Quick-Step was back in control, with Davide Ballerini leading out Jakobsen. Groenewegen, winner of stage 1 and 3, sat on Jakobsen’s wheel. The Quick-Step sprinter launched his move with 100 meters to go as Ballerini pulled away, and Groenewegen was straight onto his young countryman’s tail.
Groenewegen looked to have overhauled Jakobsen in the final 50 meters, but the 23-year-old was able to nudge his wheel across the line first to win by the narrowest of margins. To the other side, John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal) crossed the line a fraction of a second later to take third.
“I’m happy to be in this team because they put me in the perfect position for the sprint. I’m really happy for the team and myself,” said Jakobsen. “We wanted to start the season good, that’s why we came here to try to win a stage and I’m very happy we succeeded.”
Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) started the day second and third overall. They too finished in the bunch on the same time as Pogacar and secured their positions on the lower steps of the GC podium.
Pogacar has Tour de France ambitions for 2020. Starting the season with a victory off the back of closing 2019 with a podium slot at the Vuelta a Espana keeps the ball rolling nicely. The next race on the young Slovenian’s calendar is WorldTour-ranked UAE-Tour, later this month.
Stage 5 results
- Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): 2:04:32
- Dylan Groenwegen (Jumbo-Visma): S.T
- John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal): S.T
- Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Emirates): 18:43:00
- Jack Haig (Mitchelton Scott): +00:00:06
- Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos): S.T