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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 7, 2020

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Volta a Valenciana team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar:

The most veteran rider at the start of the 2020 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana performed just like he’s done for the past 15 years, always within the best in his first uphill sprint chance of the year. Just one rider got in Alejandro Valverde’s (Movistar Team) way of success at the top of the Cullera mountain on stage two: Tadej Pogacar (UAD), one of his rivals for the Madrid podium few months ago.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar just beats Alejandro Valverde.

The Telefónica-backed squad’s two GC hopes for the Vuelta CV, Valverde and Marc Soler, responded well at the end after solid job from his five team-mates. Dario Cataldo and Davide Villella kept the duo sheltered while Rojas, Arcas and Samitier pushed hard to neutralize a strong five-man early break, featuring Alessandro De Marchi (CCC) and final ‘survivor’ Rémi Cavagna (DQT).

Valverde went after several of the moves prior to the sprint, and was even close to matching Pogacar’s finishing pace. In turn, Soler, who conceded just 8″ into a finish less apt for his characteristicas, remains in the overall top-ten before Saturday’s decisive moutnain stage in Bernia. Friday, though, should be one for the sprinters in Torrevieja (168km), should the coastal winds permit it.

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It always makes you feel a bit sad when you don’t win, of course, yet the competition is always hard when you aim at victories in top courses, and Pogacar is such a fresh talent with a very strong finish. He was simply the best at the final meters today.

“I want to thank the whole team for their fenomenal job taking care of us today, both in the pursuit and early into the stage. I didn’t know the finish that well – I had checked it through video a couple of days ago – and I made a couple of moves near the finish which cost me a bit. When Moscon attacked, I followed his move, and when I launched my sprint, there was a slight headwind and Pogacar ended up overtaking me. I don’t think we should put any ifs on Pogacar’s win today, though: he was a deserved winner.

“Second place in the end – I’ve already got two, last season I got 14 – but the important thing is that I’m again up there with the top contenders, and I feel fresh for what’s to come. Saturday’s Altea climb hasn’t got much to do with today’s: it’s longer and quite harder. Let’s hope I can profit from these legs and take that step forward missing for the win. We’ll also have Marc up there: he’s been able to do well in such an explosive finish, so Saturday should suit him much better.”

Jumbo-Visma posted this bad news about rider Tobias Foss:

A serious crash by Tobias Foss was a big blow for Team Jumbo-Visma in the second stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valencia. The Norwegian, winner of last year’s Tour de l’Avenir, crashed heavily at seven kilometres before the finish and was forced to abandon the race with a broken collarbone.

The second stage was animated by Team Jumbo-Visma’s Jos van Emden. The national time trial champion was part of a five-rider breakaway. The breakaway lasted over one hundred and sixty kilometres. They were taken back in the last ten kilometres.

After the withdrawal of Foss, who was our pawn for today’s finish, Team Jumbo-Visma played no significant role on the steep final climb to the finish.

Sports director Grischa Niermann witnessed the talented climber being forced to abandon the race. “We had hoped that he could have joined the battle on this kind of finish. This is very annoying for him and for the team. But this is part of cycling as well. Until the crash, the stage went perfectly for us. We had Jos in the day’s breakaway and the teams had to chase very hard to reel them in. It was a strong and good attempt. Tomorrow we will be going full on for a sprint with Dylan again, but unfortunately without Tobias.”

Jos van Emden took his day in the breakaway as a good training. “We agreed this morning to try and have one rider in the breakaway. That way we didn’t have to chase as a team. When I saw strong guys like Cavagna and De Marchi go, I didn’t hesitate for a moment and I went along with them. Even though I knew that I would not stand a chance on a finish like this. We rode really fast and we lasted a long time. It was a good training. Tomorrow we will have a chance with Dylan, but first I’m going to go to sleep.”

And here's the report from 5th-place Jack Haig's Mitchelton-Scott team:

Australian climber Jack Haig showed some early season form today, climbing amongst the race favourites to fifth place, on the first steep hill top finish in Cullera.

The short, two-kilometre ramp saw the peloton shatter, with Haig biding his time in an ever reducing front group, surfing the wheels in the final kilometre, before powering into fifth place behind the stage winner Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates).

The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider now sits in second place overall behind the new race leader Pogacar, and with no time bonuses awarded to the riders on the finish line, the top nine riders all sit on the same time heading into tomorrow's third stage.

Within the opening kilometres of the 181km second stage, the peloton allowed five riders to jump away and ride out to a solid advantage of five and a half minutes.

Various individuals tried to bridge across, but non were able to make the junction and the five leaders, Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quickstep), Jos van Emden (Team Jumbo-Visma), Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team) Alvaro Cuadros (Caja-Rural) and Hector Sáes (Caja-Rural) settled into their rhythm ahead.

It wasn't until the final 30kilometres of the stage when the breakaway's time gap really diminished as the peloton barrelled closer and closer to the final test, a steep, two-kilometre uphill climb.

The terrain was open and exposed and the main GC teams headed to the front and quickly reeled back three of the remaining four leaders. Cavagan took a chance and attacked away and was able to maintaining some distance in front as he closed in on the final climb.

Mitchelton-SCOTT fought to keep good position near the front of the bunch in an attempt to keep Haig in strong contention and successfully led the Australian into the base of the final climb.

The peloton exploded, as expected, once the road headed north, with Haig showing maturity to keep his own pace as the line drew closer.

Around the final corner, Haig moved up positions and tried to follow an acceleration before crossing the line in fifth place on the same time as the winner.

Jack Haig:
"The climb was actually not as hard as I expected looking at the profile before the stage, the road surface was good and it was quite fast. The guys did an amazing job to put me into position at the bottom which made the climb a little bit easier. They all looked after me very well today especially within the last 20-30kilometre when we were riding through the flatter, more exposed sections.

"I tried to pace the climb well, I knew it would be between a five to six minute effort and I knew if I went too deep at the beginning then I would really suffer at the end in the critical moment on the climb, the last 800metres.

"I should have probably been in the big chainring for the last 120metres of the climb when Pogacar and Valverde made an acceleration. I tried to go with them and I didn't have enough gears, that was a little bit annoying but it definitely gives me a lot of confidence.

"I came into this race not really knowing how my fitness was after having such a long winter, and it is hard to get a good feeling of how you are going training in the cold in Andorra, so I can take confidence from today."

Dave McPartland - Sport Director:
"It was a great ride by Jack, it is always unknown how the legs will be in the first race and the short climbs maybe don't suit him as much as the longer climbs, but that is even more reason to be happy with today, he has shown he has good form and there's really good signs for the goals coming.

"He is into second overall now as there are no time bonuses awarded on the finish line, you would expected on the longer climb on stage four there could big some big time gaps, but if it is anything like today with five or six guys crossing the line almost all together then that leaves him in a good position and he can have confidence for the coming days."

Team Deceuninck-Quick Step posted this stage two report:

Five months after his successful number at the Vuelta a España, where a spirited ride helped him hold off the charging bunch and nab the first Grand Tour stage win of his career in Toledo, Rémi Cavagna found himself again in a break on Spanish turf, this time at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, which Thursday travelled from Torrent to Cullera, over 181 kilometers.

Cavagna attacked as soon as the flag was dropped together with three other men and permanently traded turns at the front, forging a five-minute maximum advantage. The peloton knew that the hard climb to the finish, averaging 8% over two kilometers, would play into their advantage, but they were still forced to up the tempo in order to reduce the gap.

A fantastic rouleur, capable of putting in a monumental effort in this kind of moves or at the front of the bunch for the team, Rémi attacked from the leading group when their advantage dipped to 25 seconds and left everything on the road as he kept going, being brought back with just four kilometers to go by an already nervous and thinned out peloton. From there, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) claimed the win on the final meters, with Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s James Knox finishing inside the top 15, just eight seconds adrift, and making quite the jump in the general classification.

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