Volta a Catalunya: Aggressive Martin concludes 6th in the GC
A key protagonist throughout the week, the Irishman didn't want to finish the World Tour event without one last attack.
Barcelona, the city of Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Montjuic and Cemetery of Forgotten Books, kept with the tradition of last years and played host to the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya, which this season ran its 97th edition. The 137.8km-long stage included an 8-lap circuit over the Montjuic, the 2km hill averaging 5.7% and kicking up at 8%, where attacks were expected to come from the peloton.
Petr Vakoč – fourth on the penultimate day – got infiltrated in the original break of the day, which had 21 riders who led by three minutes before several teams woke up and began to increase the pace and chase down the escapees, in the process whittling down the bunch. The move of the men in the front was nullified with around 20 kilometers to go, and soon Chris Froome (Team Sky) surged clear, putting 15 seconds between him and the pack.
Behind, Quick-Step Floors – with an impressive Laurens De Plus first wheel – set a fast tempo and strung out the peloton, cutting into the Brit's advantage, who was caught over the top of the climb. New attacks followed, but the reduced peloton reacted each time. It was only with three kilometers to go that Dan Martin unleashed his powerful acceleration, getting a gap over all the other riders, except race leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who sticked to his wheel.
The two approached the closing kilometer with a slim lead over the chasers, who were coming strong from behind and made contact with the finish line in sight. Dan couldn't fight for victory, but didn't give up and used his last ounces of energy to sprint to 5th place, notching up Quick-Step Floors' ninth top 10 result at the 2017 Volta a Catalunya.
Martin's bold attack was a fitting way to conclude the Spanish event for our team, who was always there throughout the week, attacking relentlessly on the flat and in the mountains, getting involved in bunch sprints and setting a pace which at times shattered the peloton.
"Despite being a young team, the guys were always up there and this makes me very proud. I knew it was going to be difficult to beat the fast riders today, but nevertheless I wanted to try something, because I thought it was the best moment to do so. Didn't get the win, but I'm happy with this move", said Dan Martin, one of the strongest riders in the race, who was sixth at the end of the day in the Volta a Catalunya general classification. "Besides the solid results, what I can also take out of this race is the fact that I've always been there and proved my consistency. After testing myself on this circuit very similar to the classics, I now look with even more confidence to the Ardennes."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele