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Having been part of a 12-rider breakaway, Tsatevich beat Roglic in a 2-rider sprint to win the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya; Quintana responded to all attacks and won the race ahead of Contador and Martin

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele

ALBERTO CONTADOR

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ALEXEI TSATEVICH

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DANIEL MARTIN

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JARLINSON PANTANO

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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PRIMOZ ROGLIC

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VOLTA A CATALUNYA

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27.03.2016 @ 18:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) crowned a marvelous Volta a Catalunya by taking his first win of the year on the challenging final stage of the Spanish race. Part of a 12-rider group, the sprinter dug deep on the Montjuic circuit in Barcelona to stay with climber Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) whom he beat in a 2-rider sprint. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) responded to all the attacks from his rivals and won the race overall, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) completing the podium.

 

Alexey Tsatevich may be known as a fast finisher but during this week’s Volta a Catalunya, he has proved that he is much more than that. While finishing in the top 10 in every stage apart from the two days in the Pyrenees, he has been riding aggressively in the mountains, staying with some of the best climbers and proving that he is in the form of his life.

 

That made him an outsider for today’s final stage of the race which finished with 8 laps of the traditional 6.5km circuit in Barcelona. It included the 2km climb of Montjuic and a downhill run to the line, meaning that it was suited to a strong sprinter like Tsatevich.

 

However, the Russian refused to wait for the sprint and instead he joined a strong 12-rider group that escaped early in the stage. He proved his class as he was the only rider who could keep up with climber Primoz Roglic and then finally beat his companion in a 2-rider sprint to take the first WorldTour win of his career.

 

At the start of the penultimate lap, Arnaud Courteille (FDJ) Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural) Maurits Lammertink (Roompot), Tsatevich (Katusha), Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal), Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) were left in front and were being chased by a strong chase group that included Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Mikel Nieve (Sky), Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin), Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis). Futher back, the peloton had splintered due to the many attacks and Winner Anacona started to chase for Movistar in the 30-rider group as the Rrodriguez group now had an advantage of 15 seconds.

 

The chaser quickly caught Ben King and Nikias Arndt and passed Matej Mohoric who had all been in the early break and Arndt then emptied himself for Ludvigsson. Meanwhile, the front group split on the climb and suddenly only Tsatevich and Roglic had survived.

 

The battle for the GC intensified as it was time for Alberto Contador to make his expected move but Nairo Quintana reacted immediately. Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) and Daryl Impey (Orica) tried to make a counterattack but they failed.

 

The Rodriguez group picked up Mas and started the final lap 36 seconds behind the two leaders while the peloton was still 57 seconds behind. As they started to climb again, the Rodriguez group picked up most of the early break as Roglic and Tsatevich were now the only survivors.

 

Siutsou worked hard for Kudus but they were losing ground as Antonio Molina (Cajaa Rural), Petr Vakoc (Etixx) and Simon Gerrans (Orica) started to chase in the peloton. Meanwhile, Navarro attacked from the chase group.

 

Davide Formolo (Cannondale) attacked from the peloton and sprinted past Siutsou and Ludvigsson before getting joined by Tejay van Garderen (BMC). The pair joined Rodriguez, Pantano, Nieve, Armee and Kudus who had caught Navarro,

 

In the peloton, Froome was leading the chase until Martin took over and they caught the chasers with 3km to go after Pantano had tried to get clear. Wout Poels (Sky) made an immediate move and was joined by Pantano but Cannondale were now getting organized with Michael Woods and Formolo leading the chase. They caught Pantano and Poels inside the final kilometre.

 

Meanwhile, it was clear that Tsatevich and Roglic would decide the stage and it was the Russian who easily beat his companion who seemed to have already given up before even launching the sprint. 14 seconds later Pantano beat Poels and Impey in the sprint for third.

 

Quintana finished safely in the bunch to defend his 7-second lead over Contador while Martin picked up an early bonus second that allowed him to move into third overall in the same time as Richie Porte. De Gendt won both the mountains and sprints competition and Carthy was the best young rider. BMC won the teams classification.

 

With the Volta a Catalunya done and dusted, attention in Spain turns to Saturday’s GP Miguel Indurain and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco which starts next Monday. The next WorldTour race is Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

 

A difficult circuit

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was a day for the puncheurs on the final stage which brought the riders over 136.4km around the city of Barcelona. After an opening section with two early climbs, flat roads led to the 6.5km finishing that would be covered 8 times. It included the 2km Montjuic climb and a final descent of 4km.

 

Igor Anton (Dimension Data), Jose Herrada (Movistar) and Stef Clement (IAM) all stayed in the hotel, and thus it was only 156 riders who gathered for today's stage under a cloudy sky. As expected, they again started at a blistering pace that was caused by lots of attacks. In the hectic opening, Wanty’s GC rider Thomas Degand crashed and he unfortunately had to abandon. Bernhard Eisel (Dimension Data) also left the race after only a few kilometers

 

Martin scores bonus second

15 riders got clear through early in the stage after Matvey Mamykin (Katusha) had launched an early attack, but they were caught before the final intermediate sprint that came already after 8.3 km. Here Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) won ahead of teammate Tosh van der Sande, and he secured the overall victory in the sprint competition. It was important that Dan Martin (Team Quick Step) was third and so moved into third in GC.

 

The many attacks led to the creation of a 7-rider group just before the day's first climb after 22km of racing as Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin), Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida), Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ) Ben King (Cannondale), Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural) and Maurits Lammertink (Roompot) got clar. They were joined by Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha), Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) and Boris Dron (Wanty), and while the peloton took a breather, the 12 rider built a gap of a minute. At the same time, Maxime Bouet (Etixx- Quick Step) abandoned.

 

Armee wins KOM sprints

The field did not allow the break much of an advantage. The gap was 1.15 after 25 kilometers and quickly dropped to 1.05 when Armee beat Dron in the first KOM sprint for to protect De Gendt’s lead in the mountains competition. Then it grew steadily to 2.50 after 37 km. While Pawel Franczak and Jiri Polnicky (Verva) left the race, CCC started to chase.

 

Armee beat Bouwman and Dron in the second KOM sprint where the lead was reduced to 2.15. It had been a fast first hour with an average speed of 44 km/h, and CCC did not slow down. After 48km they had reduced the gap to 1.50, but at the second intermediate sprint, it was again 2.15.

 

CCC lead the chase

CCC lined out five riders on the front as they approached the Montjuic circuit but they were unable to prevent the gap to go out to 3.15 with 70km to go.  They kept the gap stable as they tackled the final flat part of the course. Meanwhile, the break was working well together and crossed the finish line for the first time with an advantage of 3.15.

 

As they hit Montjuic for the first time, Mas launched a big attack and as Siutsou upped the pace in an attempt to bring him back, the group splintered. Mohoric, Arndt and Dron were the first to surrender and more riders dropped off due to the fast pace.

 

Mas takes off

While Mas crested the summit as the lone leader, the CCC team was swarmed by all the GC teams who were fighting hard for position for the climb. As they hit the ascent, a single CCC rider again took control for the Polish team after the fast approach to Montjuic had reduced the gap to 2.40.

 

Mas crossed the finish line with a solid advantage but as he went up the climb for the second time, Siutsou, Mohoric – who had been in difficulty earlier – and Lammertink got back to turn it into a front quartet.  Moments later, almost the entire group came back together. In the peloton, an extra CCC rider joined forces with his teammate as the gap had now gone out to 3 minutes but they failed to make any inroad.

 

Mohoric makes a move

Mohoric attacked on the descent after Siutsou had won the KOM sprint but he only had a very small advantage at the end of the second lap. Meanwhile, the final CCC rider swung off and the pace briefly went down.

 

At the start of the third lap, Tinkoff went full gas with Matteo Tosatto, Alberto Contador and Yury Trofimov hitting the front. The Italian emptied himself on the lower slopes and then the Russian took over. However, Nairo Quintana and Dan Martin were glued to Contador’s wheel. At the top of the climb, Trofimov swung off and so the pace went down after the gap had been reduced to 2.36.

 

Movistar take control

Mohoric had again been caught on the climb but as he hit the descent, he accelerated again. In the peloton, Etixx-QuickStep took control with Gianni Meersman until Vasil Kiryienka took over for Sky. However, the pace went completely down as Movistar hit the front with Imanol Erviti.

 

Mohoric crossed the line with a small advantage over a chase group that was down to just Mas, Lammertink, Armee, Roglic, Courteille, Siutsou and Tsatevich. The peloton was still 2.40 behind at this point.

 

Aru attacks

As they hit the climb again, Fabio Aru (Astana) hit out immediately and he crested the summit with a solid advantage. Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal) and Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) took off in pursuit and they joined the Italian on the descent. In the peloton, Erviti controlled things for Movistar,

 

As they hit the climb, Dayer Quintana took over the pace-setting while Aru, Vervaeke and Barguil worked well together. Meanwhile, Mas, Courteille, Roglic, Tsatevich, Lammertink, Armee, King and Siutsou caught Mohoric as they crested the summit. Here the group led the Aru trio by 1.27 and the peloton by 2.17. At the passage of the line, the gaps were 1.30 and 2.12 respectively as Erviti was back in control for Movistar.

 

Froome makes a move

As they hit the climb for the third time, Ag2r went full gas until Vasil Kiryienka took over for Sky. He strung the peloton completely out and reduced the gap to 1.52 halfway up the climb, cracking Ben Gastauer (Ag2r) in the process.

 

The plan was to set Chris Froome up for an attack in the steepest section and while Quintana gave chase, he immediately got a small advantage. He sprinted past the Aru trio before Quintana, Martin, Contador, Aru, Zakarin, Vervaeke, Barguil and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) joined him.

 

That group was caught as Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) did a big job for Romain Bardet and this allowed Navarro to take off. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) and Mikel Nieve (Sky) joined the move and later Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) also bridged across. Further up the road, Mohoric exploded and was passed by an 8-rider group from which Tsatevich emerged as the strongest.

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