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“When you see your teammates winning, you begin thinking it’s possible also for you to do it. That’s what is so good about Etixx - Quick-Step as a team, the atmosphere and the mentality."

Photo: Etixx-QuickStep / Tim De Waele

ANTON VOROBYEV

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CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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DANIEL MARTIN

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DAVIDE FORMOLO

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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EF PRO CYCLING

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JESUS HERRADA

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JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LUIS LEÓN SÁNCHEZ

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TEAM SKY

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TOM-JELTE SLAGTER

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VOLTA A LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA

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04.02.2016 @ 21:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Daniel Martin got his Etixx-QuickStep career off to the best possible start when he used his explosive punch to win the first mountaintop finish of the European season on stage 2 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. With a powerful surge at the flamme rouge, he put two seconds into a select group of favourites that was led to the finish by Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and race leader Wout Poels (Sky) who defended his position at the top of the GC.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Daniel Martin: When you watch your teammates winning, you want to win too

Almost one year and a half since his last victory, which came in stage 4 of the 2014 Tour of Beijing, Dan Martin found again the road to success, this time at the 67th edition of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, where he conquered the European season’s first mountain top finish, Alto de Fredes (17 km, 4.5% average gradient, 12% maximum gradient). The two-time Monument winner took advantage of his powerful explosion and left everyone behind before soloing to the finish line, where he scored his maiden victory in the Etixx – Quick-Step jersey, a result which helped him move up in the overall standings.

“As soon as I joined Etixx – Quick-Step, the welcome was incredible. Also, the atmosphere is really good for my confidence. Even from the start of today’s stage I really believed I had a chance to win. I had the legs, I managed to score this victory and have that perfect start to the season. With 3 kilometers to go, there was a flat section which was really fast. Many riders used it to come at the front, and at one moment I was bad positioned. Then I moved up, Navarro attacked and when I looked up and saw we are entering the last kilometer, I decided to give it a go”, said Dan Martin. “I sprinted three times, and in the last 250 meters, which were in a downhill, I already knew I had won. The victory came also as a result of the excellent job of my team, with the guys being fantastic throughout the day.”

This was Etixx – Quick-Step’s fifth victory of the season, and the second in as many days, following the one of Marcel Kittel in stage 1 of the Dubai Tour. The series started in the Tour de San Luis, with the team time trial and Fernando Gaviria’s first pro success, and continued in Europe at the Challenge Mallorca, where Gianluca Brambilla got his hands on Trofeo Pollença-Port de Andratx after a valiant effort:

 

“When you see your teammates winning, you begin thinking it’s possible also for you to do it. That’s what is so good about Etixx – Quick-Step as a team, the atmosphere and the mentality. Everybody wants to land victories all the time, regardless of the race, and to get them gives you a lot of confidence”, concluded a thrilled Dan Martin after the stage, before climbing on the podium, were he received the trophy for the stage win, as well as the polka dot jersey, for leading the KOM classification.

The stage to Alto de Fredes was a rewarding one also for another Etixx – Quick-Step rider, Bob Jungels: the Luxembourg champion, who was in the top 10 in yesterday’s individual time trial, finished only two seconds behind his teammate and climbed to 5th in the overall standings, with three stages to go.

 

Frustrated Jesus Herrada: We hesitated too much

Little was missing for the Movistar Team to achieve its second win of the 2016 season. Jesús Herrada was the fastest of all favourites on the gentle climb of Fredes, the Cat-1 ascent putting an end to  the 163km stage two in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. However, a well-timed attack from Daniel Martin (EQS) anticipated the big field, whose only challenge came halfway through the climb as José Herrada, the older of the Cuenca-born saga, jumped to keep their team-mates calm before the final kick.

 

José's attack, which managed to open a 20-second gap, found response from race leader Wout Poels' Sky train and, later on, from the attacks searching for the stage win. The fast, brief descent into the final kilometer prevented Jesús from closing the gap to Martin as he crossed the line 2" behind, with Ion Izagirre (6th) and Dayer Quintana (9th) also staying within the group of the yellow jersey.

 

As the TT specialists were dropped from the main group, three from the Movistar Team are now part of the overall top ten: Jesús Herrada jumps into fourth place (+26), Javi Moreno now ranks sixth (+32) and Izaagirre, happily recovered from yesterday's crash, sits in eighth spot (+38).

 

Stage three on Friday - 173km between Sagunto and Alzira - could bring coastal winds and some stress to all riders; the GC men will, nevertheless, be thinking about Saturday's Xorret de Catí, where the Movistar Team will try to reach the podium they've been neglected today.

 

"We also came close to winning yesterday in the time trial - that makes even more bitter to be up there with the big contenders and not taking the victory today,” Herrada said. “I had already checked the stage carefully on the Internet and the roadbook - it suited me well, I liked it. The climb was not too hard, but José attacked early on and put on a nice effort so the bunch could split and reduce danger for us. The pace ended up being fast for the whole peloton, which proves that the job my brother and team-mates did was good.

 

"In the final kilometer, Daniel Martin attacked together with Dani Navarro, and Sky picked up the pace after them. It seemed like they would catch them, and we saved some energy for the sprint, but Martin ultimately kept that gap, he was really strong - we might have hesitated too much to go after him. We tried to close the gap in the last uphill slope with Ion and Dayer, thinking that some seconds would be feasible to close in the sprint, but the finish was slightly downhill and the positions we all had at the top of the ascent were the same we held over the finish.

 

"Tomorrow's stage should come down to a big bunch sprint; it might be a recovery day for us GC riders, but it will also be a day to stay focused, not losing any time and staying away from trouble. Saturday offers a brand new opportunity and I hope for any of my team-mates to be able to fight for victory and podium.”

 

Wout Poels defends lead after impressive Sky performance

A towering team performance allowed Wout Poels to maintain his overall race lead on stage two at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

 

Team Sky controlled proceedings from the start of the 163.3-kilometre test and ensured the Dutchman always had men around him on an important day for the general classification.

 

All eyes were on the tough uphill finish to Fredes and Poels dug deep to cross the line in third place, just two seconds behind winner Dan Martin (Etixx - Quick-Step).

 

That result allowed Poels to stay in yellow, maintaining all of his 15-second lead in the process in addition to the points jersey. Benat Intxausti produced an impressive finish with fourth, crossing the line on the wheel of his team-mate.

 

The ride moved Intxausti up to seventh spot overall, 33 seconds back on Poels, with Leopold Konig now sitting ninth, a further six seconds down.

 

Nicolas Roche and Alex Peters got through a lot of work early as Team Sky committed numbers to the front.

 

On the approach to the climb it was Vasil Kiryienka who hit the front for a monstrous turn, stringing out the bunch and marking the end of the day's breakaway.

 

The work wasn't done as a dangerous move from Jose Herrada (Movistar) had to be pegged back, with Mikel Nieve and David Lopez adding firepower to the chase as Movistar and Sky went toe to toe.

 

Under the flamme rouge it was Martin who hit out to take an impressive win ahead of Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and Poels - who ensured Team Sky ended the day with all three leader's jerseys in a trio of ongoing stage races.

 

“Great ride from the boys today! Nice to ride in team like this! 3th in stage & still leader,” Poels tweeted after the stage.

 

Tom-Jelte Slagter shows form with 5th place in Valencia

After a disappointing time trial, Cannondale were in the mix on stage 2 with Tom-Jelte Slagter in 5th and Davide Formolo in 10th.

 

”Always nice to race at the front of the peloton, good day for @Ride_Argyle with me and @davideformolo in top 10 #strongteam,” Slagter tweeted after the stage.

 

More to come from Cannondale.

 

Luis Leon Sanchez stays in second and feels good in Valencia.

Fabio Aru, Luis Leon Sanchez and Diego Rosa crossed the finish line in the first group at just 2 seconds from the winner. In the GC, Sanchez defended the second position and Diego Rosa is now in third position.

 

“I felt strong today on a race route that was difficult to interpret, explained Luis Leon Sanchez. “As a team I think we rode very well, all day long in the front position of the bunch. Then the final climb was quite strange with narrow roads in the first part and then some flats. The winner gained just 2 seconds on us and we consolidated our position in the GC.”

 

Eduard Prades confirms puncheur skills in Valencia mountains

Eduard Prades did very well on the uphill finish on stage 2 of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, when he finished 8th behind the stage winner Daniel Martin (Etixx-Quickstep). The punchy Caja Rural - Seguros RGA rider had no problems following the group of favorites on the slopes towards the top of the final climb. Due to his great performance today, Prades is now 16th overall, 1:02 minutes behind race leader Wout Poels (Team Sky).

Sports director, Josemi Fernández explains: “The stage went as we expected with Team Sky controlling the race all day long for their leader. To be honest, we thought it would split up more in the final but at the end, a big group finished together. Eduard Prades did very well finishing in 8th place, while the team is now 6th overall in the team classification”.

 

“The last 40 km were very nervous, always fighting for positions, as we approached the climb,” Pardes said. “The team helped me stay near the front, which really boosted my motivation as I was riding on home soil. On the final kilometer, I lacked a little energy to fight for the stage win but I still think I did well”.

 

Stage 3 of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana is the first chance for the sprinters to have their say. However, the undulating route means it won’t be easy to keep the race together. José Gonçalves showed good legs in the opening time trial, despite an early crash. Friday’s finish suits Gonçalves very well and he hopes to be up there fighting for the top positions.

 

Joaquim Rodriguez off the pace in first mountaintop finish

The last kilometer of racing provided most of the action in Thursday's Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodríguez and Alberto Losado were in the heart of the effort, riding near the front and following the moves on the climb. A late attack from Daniel Martin shut down the lead of José Herrada (Movistar), with the Etixx – Quick Step rider able to hold his turn of speed to take the victory atop a chilly Alto de Fredes at the end of the 163,3 km stage 2.

 

“There were around 30 riders in the front but a split gave Danny Martin the win by two seconds in the last few hundred meters with his good acceleration. Joaquim was just behind this group but this was not his type of climb. It was long at 4% with many riders in the group. At any rate, this is the beginning of his season, and being able to finish near this front group is a good sign for him. We also saw that the team rode around Joaquim very well,” said head team director José Azevedo.

 

After the start in Castellón, a break went clear that included Team Katusha rider Anton Vorobyev, showing that his from is coming along and his motivation is high in the early season.

 

“We had a plan to control the race from the start, so I was in front and was able to go in a break with four more guys. I wanted to be in an escape today to test myself and see how I felt in a long break. We spent 150 km in front of the race and I can say I am quite satisfied with my performance. The body and legs responded well during the whole day. That was today; tomorrow is another day and another opportunity,” concluded Anton Vorobyev.

 

“Anton was in the breakaway from the beginning and after his crash yesterday this was good to see. We knew the final was not suited for him so it was good to see him ride in the front and show that the team was active,” concluded José Azevedo.

 

With a winning time of 4:10.06, Daniel Martin held a two-second gap to Herrada and yesterday’s stage winner and race leader Wout Poels of Team Sky. Albero Losada was the best KATUSHA’s rider with 30th place.

 

New LottoNL-Jumbo signing loses ground in first mountaintop finish

The second stage in the Volta la Comunitat Valenciana was won by Daniel Martin (Etixx - Quick Step), who soloed up the final Alto de Fredes climb. Victor Campenaerts of Team LottoNL-Jumbo placed 40th and moved to 12th in the overall standings. Wout Poels (Team Sky) remains in the lead.

 

"We started the stage with the idea to position Victor at the front of the bunch at the foot of the final climb," Sport Director Addy Engels said after the race. "It was a long climb for him but he did not lose so much time and I am satisfied. Victor's main objective here was yesterday's time trial and to develop further in these kind of stage races. That he is now 12th in the standings is good. Then he can feel and experience how it is to defend a classification. In any case, it’s a good position to work from.”

 

Campenaerts was well supported during the stage by the experienced men of the team. The youngsters are developing, watching and learning in their first race of the season.

 

"The work of Dennis [van Winden], Tom [Leezer] and Paul [Martens] was perfect," Campenaerts said in the team bus. "They protected me perfectly from the wind today and dropped me off in the front at the foot of the climb. I feel good and was hoping for a high pace on the climb. Martin jumped in the last kilometre and nobody had an answer. Such an explosion is not my speciality. I am happy because I have not lost much time. I crashed yesterday but I feel okay. I don’t have any problems."

 

Tomorrow they will race a flat stage to Alzira.

 

"Tomorrow is a flat day, we'll work for Dylan [Groenewegen],” said Campenaerts.

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