Volta a Catalunya: Serry and Vakoč in the mix with the sprinters
Quick-Step Floors Team continued to be an aggressive presence at the Spanish race.
Heavy snow forced the organizers of the Volta a Catalunya to cut the first 58 kilometers of stage 4, which included a long descent that could have became really dangerous in these conditions. As a result, the race got underway a few hours later, from Montferrer, and 30 minutes after the flag was dropped five riders snapped the elastic and opened a three-minute gap: Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), José Gonçalves (Katusha-Alpecin), Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo), Juan Felipe Osorio (Manzana Postobon) and Diego Rubio (Caja Rural).
The peloton kept a close eye on the escapees and caught them just before Turo del Puig, the 3km-long climb at an average gradient of 5.7%, peaking with 13 kilometers to go. As the teams who wanted to get rid of the sprinters ramped up the pace, Dan Martin – yesterday's runner-up – jumped clear, but his move was soon countered by the pack. Just before the top, four men got away and threatened the plans of the sprinters' teams, who were organizing themselves on the descent.
With five kilometers to go, their action came to an end, so the fast men of the peloton took the front and fought for victory in Igualada, which was hosting its first Volta a Catalunya stage arrival in 21 years. Both Pieter Serry and Petr Vakoč tried their luck in the last 300 meters, and despite facing some stiff opposition, they both finished with the best, sixth, respectively eighth, taking Quick-Step Floors' tally at the race to five top-10 placings.
Friday will see the riders go to Le Port, a special-category ascent which returns on the route for the first time since 1991. The climb, located not far from Mediterranean coast, is 8.4km-long with a 9% average gradient, but some sections kick up to 20%, and as a result, the gaps at the end of the stage could be pretty significant.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele