Michael Matthews, a new high profile winner in the Volta
March 26 th 2019 - 19:58 [GMT + 1]
Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) is 28 years old and has already savoured stage victories on the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España in addition to a further six stage victories in some of the most prestigious races at international level. He has now added another victory to his tally, in the second stage of the “Volta” Ciclista a Catalunya, which took the riders from Mataró to Sant Feliu de Guíxols on a 166.7-kilometre course with three third category climbs: Alt de Can Bordoi, Port de Santa Pellaia and Alt de Romanyà.
The Australian rider, who is making his debut in the Catalan stage race, beat Valverde (Movistar Team), current world champion and winner of the past two editions of the “Volta”, and eager to snatch a fourth over-all victory on Catalan soil, which he first won back in 2009. Valverde grasped a few precious points in the intermediate sprint which now puts him in second place in the general standing, just behind the current leader and yesterday’s winner in Calella, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), who has a 2:47 lead over the Spanish rider.
For now, the three-time champion of the Volta has one less rival to worry about: the four-time champion of the Tour de France, Chris Froome (Team Sky), made the headlines too today after a fall coming up to the first of the two loops through the finish line in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, losing 14:04 overall. It is now clear that the main option for success of the powerful British team in the next two mountains stages falls on the shoulders of the young Colombian rider Egan Bernal, winner of the Paris-Nice this year.
Jonas Gregaard (Astana), Josef Cerny (CCC Team) and Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) were the protagonists of the day when they formed a breakaway group during the first attacks of today’s stage. They managed to create a 7 minutes gap from the pack, yet the work of Movistar Team, Astana and a group of fast riders paid off as they managed to reduce the advantage of the threesome and reeled them in on a day marked by strong winds, especially halfway through the stage, but it wasn’t enough to create differences in the peloton in the 99th edition of the “Volta”, which tomorrow will be facing a decisive finish in Vallter 2000/Setcases.