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Volta a Catalunya: Rohan Dennis wins stage 2 time trial

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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Rohan Dennis of Australia and Team INEOS Grenadiers and Team Lotto Soudal during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Rohan Dennis of Ineos Grenadiers finished in time of 22:27 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 - 100th Edition - 2nd stage Banyoles - Banyoles 18,5 km - 23/03/2021 - Remi Cavagna (FRA - Deceuninck - Quick-Step) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2021

Remi Cavagna of Deceuninck-QuickStep (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Rmi Cavagna of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT Silhouette MotorBike Helicopter VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) finished in 22:33 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Andreas Lorentz Kron of Denmark and Team Lotto Soudal Green Leader Jersey during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m TV Motorbike ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Stage 1 winner Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal) was last rider on course (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Andreas Lorentz Kron of Denmark and Team Lotto Soudal Green Leader Jersey during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil of Spain and Team Astana Premier Tech during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Luis Leon Sanchez Gil of Astana-Premier Tech (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Dion Smith of New Zealand and Team BikeExchange during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Dion Smith of Team BikeExchange (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Lennard Kmna of Germany and Team BORA Hansgrohe during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Lennard Kämna of Bora-Hansgrohe (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Brandon Mcnulty of United States and UAE Team Emirates during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Brandon McNulty of UAE Team Emirates posted a time of 22:55 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Team BORA Hansgrohe during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) on 18.5km ITT course (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Cerny Volta a Catalunya 2021 stage 2

Josef Cerny (Deceuninck-QuickStep) finished in 23:05 (Image credit: Getty Images)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Nathan Brown of United States and Team Rally Cycling during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Nathan Brown of Rally Cycling (Image credit: Getty Sport Images)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Tejay Van Garderen of United States and Team EF Education Nippo during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Tejay van Garderen of EF Education-Nippo (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Jonathan Castroviejo of Spain and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Jonathan Castroviejo of Ineos Grenadiers (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 George Bennett of New Zealand and Team Jumbo Visma during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

George Bennett of Jumbo-Visma (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Simon Yates of United Kingdom and Team BikeExchange during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Rmi Cavagna of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Second place finish for French champion Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Rigoberto Uran Uran of Colombia and Team EF Education Nippo during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Rigoberto Uran of EF Education-Nippo (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Podium Joo Almeida of Portugal and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Green Leader Jersey Celebration during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT Trophy Mask Covid Safety Measures VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

João Almeida takes GC lead after ITT (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Podium Rohan Dennis of Australia and Team INEOS Grenadiers Celebration during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT Trophy Mask Covid Safety Measures VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

ITT stage winner Rohan Dennis at awards ceremony (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) celebrates ITT win (Image credit: Getty Images)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Podium Sylvain Moniquet of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal Red Mountain Jersey Celebration during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT Mask Covid Safety Measures VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Sylvain Moniquet of Lotto Soudal dons Red Mountain Jersey (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLA DE LESTANY BANYOLES SPAIN MARCH 23 Podium Joo Almeida of Portugal and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Yellow Best Young Rider Jersey Celebration during the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021 Stage 2 a 185km Individual Time Trial stage from Pla de LEstany Banyoles to Pla de LEstany Banyoles 145m ITT Trophy Mask Covid Safety Measures VoltaCatalunya100 on March 23 2021 in Pla de LEstany Banyoles Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) recognized as best young rider (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) won the stage 2 individual time trial at the Volta a Catalunya, taking his first time trial victory since his world title in 2019 in Yorkshire.

The Australian set a time of 22:27 on the 18.5-kilometre course around Lake Bagnoles and country roads north of Girona, beating French time trial National Champion Remi Cavagana (Deceuninck-QuickStep) by five seconds.

João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and the USA’s Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) were the best of the expected overall contenders and are now well-placed in the overall classification of the many big-name contenders in this year’s Volta. Almeida set an exact time of 22:54.99, while McNulty was timed at 22:55. They were given the same time of 22:55, with the one-hundredth of a second yielding Almeida the race lead.

Stage 1 winner Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal) set a time of 24:28 and so slipped out of the top 20. 

Dennis spent two hours in the hot seat after setting the fastest time, waiting to see if any of the overall contenders and rival time trial specialists could beat his time. Nobody other than Cavagna came close.

He was emotional after taking his first time trial victory since 2019 and his difficult divorce from Bahrain Merida and move to Ineos Grenadiers.

"I’m relieved. It's been a long time between drinks. If I'm completely honest with you, it's been a tough little road but it's really great to be back on the top step,” Dennis said.

"It means a lot. It's my first victory with Ineos Grenadiers and my first victory since Yorkshire Worlds. Look, it's been a pretty tough year and a half of second or third places, or even out of the top 10 sometimes.

“It's amazing - the team has always supported me and believed that I can be back on that top step. It's just amazing to be back. It's not been easy with all these young guys, so I'm making most of this win.”

Dennis, like many riders, divides his time between Andorra and the Girona area. He lost two minutes in the final kilometres of stage 1 and so is not an overall contender but was happy to be racing on his adopted home roads.

“I train on these roads a lot and I had a lot of friends out there to cheer me on, so it's great to do it in front of them," he concluded.

Wednesday’s third stage climbs deep into the Pyrenees and close to the border with France for a mountain finish at the Vallter 2000 ski resort. The 203km router starts near Barcelona and gradually ramps up before the final 23.2 kilometres to the finish above the snow line at 2,125 metres.

“I’m just a donkey,” Dennis said of his overall hopes and team role, recalling his hard-working role at last year’s Giro d'Italia when he played a vital part in Tao Geoghegan Hart’s overall victory.

“I’m just the one who helps out. It’s amazing we’ve got four cards to play with the two Richies [Richie Porte and Richard Carapaz], G [Geraint Thomas] and Yatesy [Adam Yates] too. It’s not going to get any easier from here, we’ve got Vallter 2000. It’s good we’ve got options.”

What it means for the GC battle

With the decisive mountain stages still to come later in the week, the 18.5km time trial was bound to shake up the overall classification and reveal who would be a real overall contender. As always, there were winners and losers, especially considering the different riders’ form, ambitions and climbing ability.

Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) confirmed before the start of Volta a Catalunya to Cyclingnews that he would not be a contender, and he was distanced and lost 8:30. He lost a further two minutes in the time trial.

Also off the pace and so slipping down the new classification where Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Jai Hindley (Team DSM), Marc Soler (Movistar) and Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange). They all lost more than a minute to Dennis, and so 30 seconds to Almeida and McNulty.

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) was the worst of all, recording a time of 24:24, which left him a minute and a half off the pace.

Steven Kruijswijk indicated he is a clear threat considering Jumbo-Visma’s stage racing ability and Kuss as support. He was just four seconds slower than McNulty and so is in the game. So is Richie Porte. He was also within 10 seconds and could emerge as Ineos Grenadiers’ protected rider despite crashing out on stage 1 of Paris-Nice.

Teammate Geraint Thomas was not a contender at Tirreno-Adriatico but seems to have benefited from a week of hard racing and finished 10th in the time trial and is now only 19 seconds down on Almeida.

Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) could also be a threat and is only 22 seconds back, while teammate Wilco Kelderman is at 25 seconds in his first race since being hit by a car during a January training camp.

It is unusual to have a time trial so early in a stage race but the time gaps will perhaps inspire attacks from the pure climbers and those who need to pull back lost time.

Following Wednesday's finish at Vallter 2000, Thursday’s 166km stage includes three major climbs and another high mountain finish at Port Aine’. Stage 6 to Manresa is equally testing, with the steep climb of Porte de Montserrat ending less than 20km from the finish.

Saturday’s seventh stage also has a shark’s tooth profile in the hills behind Barcelona, while Sunday’s final stage covers the testing Montjuïc circuit six times.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:22:27
2Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:05
3João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:28
4Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:28
5Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:33
6Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:34
7Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:35
8Josef Cerny (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:38
9Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:38
10Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:47

General classification after stage 2
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 4:43:26
2Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates
3Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:05
4Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:06
5Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:07

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