Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished safely in the bunch on the final stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana to take the overall victory.
Despite the wet weather, it was a fast start to the final day of racing in Spain with a strong six-rider group jumping off the front of the peloton early and opening up an advantage over the opening 10km, of the 135.2km course.
However, behind the breakaway, the main bunch was keen to keep control of proceedings, and consequently, after peaking at 1’23” after 32km of racing, the gap to the leaders was pulled back to around the one-minute mark.
Heading into the second half of the stage, and with a potential bunch sprint up for grabs, the peloton picked up the pace and the gap to Küng and the rest of the breakaway began to fall before, with 40km to go, just 30 seconds separated the two groups.
On the descent of the day’s only categorized climb, Stefan Küng (BMC) attacked to begin an impressive solo effort at the front of the race, which saw him head into the final 20km still holding onto an advantage of around 20 seconds.
While Küng continued to dig deep up ahead, the peloton began a frantic chase with riders stretched out along the road as the race was eventually pulled back together and the stage was set for a fast and furious finale.
With four sharp turns to navigate before the final run into the line, it was a battle for position in the bunch but Roelandts was in a perfect position when the finish line came into view.
As the sprint was launched, Roelandts’ impressive turn of speed saw him power towards the line before punching the air with delight after sealing victory in Valencia.
Race leader Valverde finished safely in the peloton to secure the overall victory in his first stage race since his crash in the 2017 Tour de France. The top three remained unchanged on the last day with Astana riders Luis Leon Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang completing the podium.
“This victory is a reward to the great, hard work we did during the last few months with my recovery”, said Valverde. “That’s why I’m so happy, because I know where I come from and everything I had to go through in order to bounce back from such a serious crash and injuries I sustained. It’s quite different, this feeling, from the one when I won the race for the first time, 14 years ago. This time I’m coming back from a very serious injury, a seven-month period without any racing, and it’s really comforting to see I’m doing as well as I did or even better. I had many things to show yet in 2004. Now I’ve done everything I could in cycling, even though I keep the same love and excitement towards this sport.
“This victory goes to all of my team-mates. I want to thank them because they were phenomenal all week. Also to all the people who has helped and supported me during the seven months before this comeback. Seeing how I was doing in Mallorca, I knew I could contest the overall win, and my attack on stage two really made me realise I was on the right path to chase that win. I held some doubts before Mallorca about how my knee would keep up after several days of racing, but in those hard, rainy conditions we had last week, it reacted well. Even more so here. We’ve had rain at all five days in Valencia, as well as cold temperatures, tough climbs – happily, everything went great. My next races? Next weekend, at my home race in the Vuelta a Murcia and the Clásica de Almería, followed by the Abu Dhabi Tour later this month.”
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2018 – stage 5 results (Paterna – Valencia):
|1||Jurgen Roelandts (BMC)|
|2||Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo)|
|3||Clement Venturini (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|4||Nelson Soto (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA)|
|5||Baptiste Planckaert (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|6||Christophe Noppe (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise)|
|7||Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini)|
|8||Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana)|
|9||Jonas Koch (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)|
|10||Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis)|
Final general classification:
|1||Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)|
|2||Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana)|
|3||Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)|
|4||Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)|
|5||Jesus Herrada (Cofidis)|
|6||Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo)|
|7||Pello Bilbao (Astana)|
|8||Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott)|
|9||Kilian Frankiny (BMC)|
|10||Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy)|