There was a mouthwatering array of talent, both established stars and up-and-comers, to contest the 97th edition of the Volta a Catalunya, which featured some fine racing along with time-penalties, trolling, a snow-shortened stage, echelons, Merckx-like time gaps and over 40 riders outside the time limit. Despite this, Alejandro Valverde sensationally soloed to victory in Friday’s queen stage for the overall lead and won the final stage to take his second title, ahead of this and last year’s runner-up, Alberto Contador, and his third-placed Movistar teammate Marc Soler.
Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, who rode strongly all week, took the leader’s jersey on the fourth stage and never really looked in danger of losing it, despite a veritable galaxy of stars snapping at his heels. A mere 7sec back was Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), while Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) took a second on today’s intermediate sprint to dislodge Richie Porte (BMC) from the podium and step up into third place.
The 94th edition of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, the fifth event on the UCI World Tour and Spain’s oldest professional stage race, starts on Monday. It’s packed full of GC contenders so here’s a quick preview of what to expect.