When Egan Bernal (Team Sky) launched a long, driving attack with five kilometres to go to the summit finish of Vallter 2000 at the Volta a Catalunya on Wednesday, it briefly looked as if he had conquered the race in a single, knockout blow.
However, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) managed to shadow his compatriot closely and refused to help with the pace, meaning the arrival of Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) considerably reduced the effect of Bernal’s attack.
Bernal could not come around Yates at the finish, taking second behind the Briton to move into third overall, where he now trails the Mitchelton-Scott racer by just three seconds. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) hung onto the race lead but is expected to lose it during today’s second stage in the mountains.
Last year at La Molina – Thursday’s summit finish to stage 4 – Bernal moved into second overall behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) with second place on the stage, and the Colombian believes that, this time around, there is everything to play for once again.
“I tried very hard. I don’t know if it was really good or not so good, but the important thing is to try,” said Bernal, who has claimed the top spot in the best young rider’s classification as well as lying third overall, said afterwards.
Bernal hinted that he had paid for his inexperience in what was a complicated five-way battle, saying, “You learn from days like these.”
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