Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 2 Comes Down to a Bunch Sprint20. March 2018, Valls (ESP) — Road Team
Brent Bookwalter was BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider on the second day of racing in Catalunya which unfolded in the same way as stage 1 with a late categorized climb unable to prevent a bunch sprint.
Just 11km into stage 2, the race headed onto the slopes of the first of two categorized climbs, the Port de la Font de Cera, with three riders already sitting two minutes ahead of the main bunch.
The peloton was happy for the breakaway’s lead to extend out to 3’50” over the opening part of the stage before race leader at the start of the day, Álvaro José Hodeg’s Quick-Step Floors teammates began to keep the gap in check.
A fast pace saw the leaders pulled back to just 1’30” before the bunch relaxed once again approaching the 100km to go mark and allowed their advantage to go back out to around three minutes.
The gap began to fall quickly heading into the final 65km of the stage and with one minute separating the breakaway from the rest of the field, Andrey Grivko (Astana Pro Team) attacked to join the front of the race.
After climbing steadily for the majority of the stage so far, the road began to flatten out slightly and, at this point, the now four-rider front group had been able to draw their advantage back out to over one minute.
A determined effort from the bunch saw the race pulled back together with 47km to go and, despite one rider trying their luck at the front of the race, a re-grouped peloton hit the bottom of the category two Coll de Lilla with 14km to go.
The gradient quickly took its toll with riders dropping off the back of the bunch but in the end, the short climb wasn’t enough to do any real damage and a large group of riders went over the top to begin a fast final 10km run into the finish.
After another bunch sprint for the line, it was Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) who took the stage win and moved into the leader’s jersey, ahead of Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) and Jay McCarthy (BORA-hansgrohe).
Bookwalter was up at the front of the bunch in the final meters of the race and he was BMC Racing Team’s first rider across the line, finishing just outside the top ten in 11th place.
Meanwhile, Tom Bohli crossed the line safely alongside Tejay van Garderen and the rest of his BMC Racing Team teammates to retain his lead of the Intermediate Sprint Classification.
Stage 3 tomorrow will see the peloton tackle the first of two consecutive mountaintop finishes.
Quotes From the Finish Line
"There was a lot of headwind today and that slowed the race down but it was still five hours in the saddle. I think everyone is a little intimidated by the stage profiles to come so I think everyone was happy not to be racing all day."
"As a team, I think we did a pretty good job overall today but I think there is some room for improvement. We have some guys here who haven't raced together a lot but we will hope to improve over the coming days."
Tejay van Garderen:
"Today started nice and relaxed with the break forming early and there only being three guys in it. But, it became more nervous throughout the day with high winds. The final climb gave us some action but in the end, we all stayed safe and out of trouble and now we're ready for the next two days."
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Stage 2: Mataró > Valls, 175.6km
Top 3: 1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3. Jay McCarthy (BORA-hansgrohe)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 11. Brent Bookwalter 73. Nicolas Roche 74. Tejay van Garderen