Summit Showdown on Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 524. March 2017, Tortosa (ESP) — Road Team
An epic showdown played out as expected on the final climb of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya stage 5 with the General Classification contenders going head to head before a shake-up of the overall lead on the line.
Once again, it was a very fast start to the day with the peloton stretched out along the road as they chased down all breakaway attempts over the first hour of racing.
It wasn't until the slopes of the Coll de Fatxes, 50km into the 182km stage, that seven riders were able to go clear, and having been joined by several counter attackers, a 14-rider group began to extend an advantage over the main bunch.
With an almost flat run-in to the second and final climb, at 22km to go, the breakaway advantage continued to increase, peaking at 4’45” before the peloton picked up their chase.
A mix of strong winds and the high speed at the front of in the peloton saw riders spread out along the road before the race hit the reset button, catching the breakaway with 32km to go.
The final ascent, which kicked up to gradients of 20 percent, proved as explosive as predicted. Inside the final 4km to go, an attack from the eventual stage winner, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) forced the front group of General Classification riders, including van Garderen, to be strung out along the road.
Valverde went on to take the stage win, and moved into the overall lead, after launching a second solo attack from a leading group of five riders.
Behind him, van Garderen and Samuel Sánchez were working hard to chase down the Movistar Team rider, who started the day 45 seconds back on the General Classification.
In the end, the BMC Racing Team duo, crossed the line 1’53” back with Tejay van Garderen now sitting sixth on the General Classification, 1’18” behind Valverde, and Sánchez eighth, 1’59” back.
Ben Hermans was forced to withdraw from racing due to illness, as detailed by BMC Racing Team doctor, Dr. Daniele Zaccaria below.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Tejay van Garderen:
"I felt really good and confident going into the final climb but the pace and the gradient weren't treating me very well, and I couldn't hold their wheel in the end. I'm obviously a little disappointed but there is still a long way to until my main goal of the year, and I feel like I am constantly making forward progress. To win here would have been a good confidence boost but I don't think it's time to panic. I definitely know what I need to work on during this next phase of training and I am ready to put in what's needed to hopefully reach the end goal."
"The race is certainly not over. Tomorrow is going to be a brutally hard stage, so it is not a time to sit up. We can now regroup as a team and see what we can do and look for other opportunities over the next two days."
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
"We held the lead by around 45 seconds going into this morning's stage, so we had a healthy gap over a lot of the contenders, and we thought we could defend the jersey today, but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. The team did a great job getting the guys into a good position for the final climb, and Tejay van Garderen was going well but then the attack went with around 3km to go, and we just couldn't match that pace."
"The General Classification is probably over for us, but we will regroup as a team and see what other opportunities arise for the guys over the next two stages."
Ben Hermans - Medical Update
BMC Racing Team doctor, Dr. Daniele Zaccaria:
"Following yesterday's stage, Ben Hermans was experiencing some gastrointestinal problems and, after monitoring the situation overnight, we made the decision that it was in his best interests to stop racing and recover properly for the races to come."
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Stage 5: Valls > Lo Port (Tortosa), 182km
Top 3: 1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 2. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 3. Alberto Contador (Trek - Segafredo)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 21. Samuel Sánchez 22. Tejay van Garderen 65. Brent Bookwalter