Ineos sweeps the Volta a Catalunya GC podium as Yates takes the overall
Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) secured the overall win at the Volta a Catalunya on Sunday, finishing safely among the GC contenders after Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) attacked to win the stage ahead of Matej Mohoric (Lotto-Soudal), with Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) taking third on the day.
On the final podium, Yates would be flanked by two Ineos Grenadiers teammates, as Richie Porte closed out the race with runner-up honors and Geraint Thomas finished in third overall.
Sunday marked the first time in at least a decade of WorldTour stage races that a single team has swept all three spots on the overall podium, putting the Ineos Grenadiers’ performance at year’s edition of the Volta a Catalunya among the most dominant in recent memory.
Indeed, the team dominated the race from the early goings. After a strong time trial on stage 2, Yates won stage 3 to storm to a big lead, and with Thomas and Porte also finishing highly on the day, the team now had three riders in the top four. Thomas would move into third overall behind Porte and Yates on stage 4, and that’s how the standings would stay through the end of the final stage, with other Ineos stars like Richard Carapaz and Rohan Dennis working to keep the race under control.
While the field may not have included Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) or Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates), the likes of Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Esteban Chaves (BikeExchange), Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation), and Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) were there, and yet the Ineos Grenadiers’ grip on the GC was never really in doubt after the overall battle heated up.
What’s more, they pulled off the dominant performance without either 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal or 2020 Giro d’Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart. In Bernal, Geoghegan Hart, Yates, Thomas, and Carapaz, the team could have more riders eyeing Grand Tour results than ever before.
That’s saying something for the former Team Sky, the team that won seven Tours de France in eight years between 2012 and 2019. The squad’s collective dominance was a major talking point in cycling throughout the 2010s, particularly in the years when Froome looked unassailable at the Tour, backed by the ever-present Sky train. And yet, at no point during the height of Froome’s powers were there so many potential overall contenders for stage race greatness on the roster.
At the Volta a Catalunya, there weren’t all that many opportunities for intra-team drama after Yates took so commanding a lead on stage 3. We’ll see how things play out, however, over the three-week races, when things are constantly changing out on the road.
As the season progresses, management will have tough decisions to make on how to get the most out of the extremely talented roster, with multiple riders likely aiming for similar objectives throughout the season. For now, at least, the team can celebrate its first stage race win of 2021 and an excellent early return on new signee Yates, who has now finished second overall (at the UAE Tour) and first overall in his first two starts since coming over from Mitchelton-Scott.