Esteban Chaves smiles in Port Ainé, but Yates resists
March 25 th 2021 - 18:34
The considered by many queen stage of the 100 edition of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya presented the second arrival in high Pyrenees, the ascent to Port Ainé, after 166.5 kilometers of route with exit in Ripoll and that counted with the difficulties of the Port of Toses and the Port del Cantó, two of the great emblems of this edition.
In it, Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) has offered sensational performances to take the stage victory, but not enough to overtake the leadership of a powerful Ineos-Grenadiers who now leads the standings with the top three riders: Adam Yates, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas.
After a hard-fought start, in which Alejandro Valverde has come to bonus in the first intermediate sprint in Ribes de Freser, a level escape has been consolidated in the ascent to Toses (1ª category), with twelve cyclists including two riders from Movistar Team and Jumbo-Visma, two of the main candidates to battle the Ineos-Grenadiers team, and prestigious climbers like Rigoberto Urán and Thomas De Gendt, who already know what it is win a stage in the Volta.
Finally, the German Lennard Kämna (Bora-hansgrohe) has proved to be the strongest man in a group that the bunch has always had a lot of control in, and he has crowned the Port del Cantó alone (Hors catégorie) with more than a minute on his pursuers and three on a group of favorites still led by the leader's team.
This push marked the end of the stage, with Kämna being trapped at the base of the long final climb to Port Ainé while an impressive Ineos-Grenadiers (Dennis, Carapaz, Thomas, Porte and Yates) set a strong pace to avoid surprises. It was then that Esteban Chaves, who had also shown great feelings in the arrival of yesterday in Vallter 2000, started beyond 7 kilometers from the finish line and got an advantage close to twenty seconds that he was able to keep until the finish line, where he has been able to celebrate a great victory that he did not achieve since the 2019 Giro d'Italia.
The charismatic Colombian smiled again, but his seven seconds on the leader's group, where 9 cyclists have entered together, have not been enough to make big changes in a overall classification that Adam Yates continues to lead with sufficiency, followed by two teammates like Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas, at 45 and 49 seconds, respectively. Alejandro Valverde, Chaves himself, Wilco Kelderman and Joao Almeida are still aspiring with about a minute lost.
The demanding three stages that remain of this Volta a Catalunya will be the opportunity to try to surprise Ineos-Grenadiers. The first of them, a fifht stage with 201 kilometers between La Pobla de Segur and Manresa with the mountain of Montserrat crowned 26 kilometers before the arrival.