Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) remains firmly in control of the Volta a Catalunya with just one stage remaining but the Briton warned that Sunday’s stage 7 round the Montjuic circuit could see some dramatic last-minute GC action.
Yates finished securely in 20th place on stage 6, which he described as the most straightforward since he took the lead with a solo mountaintop win at Vallter 2000 on Wednesday.
However, he warned that the final stage, featuring six ascents of the Montjuic circuit, represented a serious last-day challenge on the GC front.
“It’s still not over, tomorrow’s [Sunday’s] stage is real tough and for sure a lot of people will want to try because it’s the last chance,” Yates, who finished second overall in the Volta in 2019, told reporters.
“We’ll try and keep everything under control, the guys have been really strong up to now, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Asked why the Montjuic circuit was so demanding, Yates said, “it’s kind of relentless, you go up the climb down a tricky descent and there’s no real time to recover because you’re already back onto the climb again.
“It’s a real tough circuit, I’ve done it before so I know how hard it is.”
What is different, though, is that this year the Volta race organisers have substituted the circuit's already difficult ascent through Montjuic park with an even harder ascent to Montjuic castle. Although well-surfaced, the ascent has a particularly difficult 600-metre segment that includes a ramp of 18 per cent. And the riders have to tackle the climb, classified second category rather than third as in other years, no less than six times. The only plus side of it all is that unlike other years, it is forecast to stay dry on Sunday, rendering the circuit much less dangerous.
Ineos Grenadiers – as Sky – have history in terms of how the Volta a Catalunya can fall foul for them in the last moment. In 2018, Egan Bernal was running second overall when he crashed almost on the last corner of the fast but oddly cambered, downhill – which is used again this year – and ended up as a DNF.
Ineos Grenadiers are far better placed than that this year, though, with Yates in the lead, Richie Porte – already a winner of the race back in 2015 – in second and Geraint Thomas in third. The team have already won two stages, too.
Stage 6, at least, offered Yates some respite before the storm. “It was good, the first day we didn’t have to work or pull or do anything, just had to stay in position,” Yates said.
“It was a welcome rest, because the last few days have been tough and we needed to save all all the energy we could for Sunday.”
Should Ineos get through the last stage with their three riders in the top three placings overall, they would be the first team to make a clean sweep of the podium in the Volta a Catalunya since 1960, when Miguel Poblet, José Perez Frances and Emilio Cruz finished 1-2-3 for the Ferrys squad. Coming in the Volta’s centenary year, too, would make that achievement even more special.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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