First climbs of the race split the field on stage two of Valenciana

Thu 1 Feb 2018

The first significant splits of the 69th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana happened the final climb of today’s second stage with the 2016 Tour de France white jersey winner Adam Yates and teammate Roman Kreuziger part of the main group of protagonists.

After the early breakaway move had been nullified by the driving train of Team-Sky the race broke apart on the final climb, with eventual stage winner and new race leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) instigating the defining attack.

Kreuziger and Yates were the best placed Mitchelton-SCOTT riders and formed part of the elite chasing group that rotated in pursuit of Valverde over the closing kilometres with Yates crossing the line in 10th place.

Decisive Moments:

A group of five riders went clear ahead of the days first climb and gradually stretched their lead out past seven minutes before the peloton began to inject a little pace into the chase with less than 100kilometres remaining.

The advantage of the quintet fell steadily over the climbs, but it wasn’t until the final category one ascent of the day that the field sprang to life with Team-Sky driving the pace onto the El Garbi and catching the break with 35kilometres to go.

With a long 30kilometre descent to the finish coming straight after the climb, maintaining contact would be vitally important.

El Garbi – Race Splitting Attacks:

The first category climb was the last of the day and with early gradients of 10% Team-Sky drove the pace and swallowed up the remnants of the breakaway, splits duly began to form and it was a matter of who could stay with the tempo.

Attacks started to come first from Israel-Cycling-Academy followed by Valverde and Jakob Fugslang (Astana) that split the front of the race. Kreuziger and Yates were part of an elite chase group of around 20riders as the leading duo crested the climb.

A fast pursuit followed with the duo joined by Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) as they pushed the gap past 30seconds on the chasers.

The Finale – Valverde Kicks On:

Fugslang, Sanchez and Valverde held their lead under the flame rouge and despite being outnumbered two to one, it was Valverde who took the spoils and held off Sanchez and Fugslang to take the stage win and the leaders jersey.

The chasing group were only 19seconds behind as Valverde crossed the line and fractured as the sprint broke out with Yates out of the saddle and in 10th place on the day.

Adam Yates – 10th on the stage:

“In general it went pretty well today, a couple of us knew the final climb from the Vuelta last year so we were aware it was going to be tough. Being the first race back it is really all about getting back into the rhythm again so to have two guys up there in the front group on a stage like today is a really good sign.”

“Tomorrow is the team time trial and although we don’t have that many specialists here we still want to have a crack and see where we end up.”

Sport director Laurenzo Lapage:

“The stage played out as we anticipated, we knew that there would be fireworks on the final climb and that the real attacks would come there. The boys did well going onto the climb and Adam and Roman managed to stay with the front selection that made up the chase group.”

“We are happy with how it went, for Adam in particular it was good to see that he is showing some good condition after the winter and could stay with the pace that Team-Sky were setting up the climb.”

“It was really steep in places and the race really did split quite dramatically. Out of the sprinters Luka Mezgec rode very well to limit his losses and was only around 20seconds off the front group over the top. The team trial is next tomorrow, the course has been shortened from 30 down to 23 kilometres and we will get the chance to recon the route in the morning.”

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage two results:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 03:53:55

2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) ST

3. Jakob Fugslang (Astana) ST

10. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:19

General classification after stage two:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 08:27:58

2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) +0:04

3. Jakob Fugslang (Astana) +0:06

Photos courtesy of Getty Images