Movistar came out on top in the team time trial stage on day two of the Volta a Catalunya on Tuesday.
The Spanish squad cruised around the hilly 41.3km route to beat BMC Racing by just two seconds. Team Sky placed third, with Contador’s Trek-Segafredo in fourth.
The telephone squad was the only one able to compete against the BMC team, initially putting eight seconds on the red formation after 21km in.
Movistar resisted into a demanding second half, as Valverde, Amador, Castroviejo, Soler, Fernández, Oliveira, Erviti and José Joaquín Rojas reached the line together to claim the leader’s jersey for Valverde. The 36-year-old Spaniard leads after Rojas, Amador and Oliveira got respective 3′, 2′ and 1′ penalties as a result of touches from the former one to the latter two, to advise them to take position inside the line ahead of him.
Valverde put 46 seconds on Chris Froome and 1’15” on Alberto Contador , the main contenders for an overall classification surely hard-fought all the way to Barcelona on Sunday.
The Movistar Team will defend its coveted position on Wednesday at a demanding stage three, the first of two mountain-top finishes in the Volta towards La Molina (Cat-1). A first passage through the last climb will be tackled 25km from the finish, riders up for a demanding course with 4,300m vertical gain in 188km.
“It was a very tough time trial. We knew it would be hard, because we had ridden it five times during the last few days. It was a technical one, and knowing the course well ended up being key. We feared a bit the rain, because it would have made for a dangerous course, but we were lucky in the end and we got through it safe”, said Valverde.
“We must go day-by-day, yet we put a very important gap on strong rivals today. It will be very difficult tomorrow, and I’m worried about bad weather again – let’s hope we can stay dry all wekk. My legs have been feeling good over the last few days, despite not having raced anything since Andalucía, so I hope I can keep the jersey. Obviously, though, having Contador or Froome contesting it will make for a difficult defense.”
Volta a Catalunya 2017 – stage 2 (Banyoles TTT):
General classification after stage 2:
|1||Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar)|
|2||Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)|
|3||Andrey Amador (Movistar)|
|4||Ruben Fernandez (Movistar)|
|5||Nelson Oliveira (Movistar)|
|6||Imanol Erviti (Movistar)|
|7||Marc Soler (Movistar)|
|8||Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar)|
|9||Brent Bookwalter (BMC)|
|10||Ben Hermans (BMC)|