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by Shane Stokes
March 26, 2018
Three Pete: Sagan holds off Viviani to take a third Gent-Wevelgem title; Bastianelli wins women’s Gent-Wevelgem; Yates wins final stage of Volta a Catalunya, Valverde takes overall; Ovechkin wins Tour de Langkawi, Guardini takes final stage; Rosa wins Settimana Coppi e Bartali, Tratnik best in final TT; Harper, Lucas win Oceania cycling championships; Bernal crashes out of Volta a Catalunya while in second overall, Martin also falls; Video: Amazing Cycling Descents – Sagan, Nibali, Cancellara
Alejandro Valverde sealed overall victory in the Volta a Catalunya on Sunday, closely monitoring his main rivals on the concluding stage in Barcelona. Valverde had started the day 16 seconds ahead of Sky’s Egan Bernal and padded his advantage during the stage when he was second and third in intermediate sprints. Bernal was then unlucky enough to crash out of the race on the penultimate lap.
The stage was won by the Briton Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who put in a strong ride on the tough Montjuich circuit. He bridged across to the day’s breakaway move and then pushed ahead with teammate Carlos Verona, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) and Marc Soler. The latter was on Valverde’s Movistar team and thus had no obligation to work. Yate was nevertheless able to get rid of him on the final lap and reached the line 13 seconds ahead. Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale) won the chase group sprint a further five seconds later, leading in Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) and Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe).
That sprint proved vital: Yates finished equal on time to him, but lost out on a podium finish due to stage placings. Valverde’s teammate Nairo Quintana finished second after Bernal’s withdrawal, 29 seconds back, while Latour and Yates were at 47 seconds.
“When things got the craziest, I just accelerated on the climb to keep neutralizing those moves which were more dangerous, to make things easier for my team-mates,” said Valverde. “We worked again a little bit after my attack, because Yates was sort of a threat for the overall result. All in all, things turned out really well.”
The 37-year-old Spaniard first took the race lead on stage two and, after briefly slipping to second the following day, recaptured it on day four to La Molina. He looked strong throughout the race, but his defence became simpler when Saturday’s stage was shortened due to bad weather. Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) outsprinted breakaway companion Diego Rubio Hernandez (Burgos BH) to win.