Ciccone Wins Stage 2 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Stage 2 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya was a 165.4-kilometer mountainous ride from Mataro to Vallter 2000 Setcases. The stage culminated on the renowned Vallter 2000 climb, which has been compared to Alpe d’Huez. Vallter 2000 features sections of up to 18 percent, so the stage was expected to become a challenge between the general classification favorites.
A group of usual suspects set out to form a breakaway group, while the general classification teams took control of the front of the peloton to keep the attackers on a tight leash. A group of breakaway hopefuls was formed and featured Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost), Christopher Juul-Jensen (Jayco-Alula), Simone Petilli (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), Ewen Costiou (Arkea-Samsic), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros), Francisco Galvan (Equipo Kern Pharma), Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Vadim Pronskiy (Astana Qazaqstan Team).
The group was allowed a lead of more than four minutes, but as the peloton approached the final Vallter 2000 Setcases climb, the general classification teams increased the pace at the front of the peloton to reduce the advantage of the leaders. Hard work was contributed by EF Education-EasyPost, Team Jumbo-Visma, and UAE Team Emirates.
The lead was less than a minute as the riders reached the final climb and multiple riders had been dropped from the breakaway group.
With 11.5 kilometers to go, Carr attacked from the front group together with Petilli. Meanwhile their lead on the peloton had been minimized to 41 seconds. Carr then went solo.
In the peloton Team Bahrain-Victorious moved to the front to initiate a chase for their leader Mikel Landa, while UAE Team Emirates’ team leader Joao Almeida suffered a mechanical issue.
8 kilometers from the top, Carr had a 12 second lead over the chasers, while his teammate Richard Carapaz was disappointingly dropped from the peloton group.
6.5 kilometers from the stage finish Carr was caught and his EF Education-EasyPost teammate Esteban Chaves replaced him by launching a powerful attack and quickly built a 18 second advantage on the main group, still spearheaded by Bahrain-Victorious. Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss attempted to join Chaves in the attack, but his attempt failed.
With 3.5 kilometers remaining, Chaves had a 32 second lead and was still pushing powerfully on the pedals while proudly flying the Columbian colors on his National Champion jersey.
2 kilometers from the finish line Landa attacked and was followed by World Champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep). Other riders joined the group, while Chaves’ lead was reduced to 12 seconds.
Evenepoel increased the pace with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo).
Chaves fought hard and delivered a memorable performance but was sadly caught with 550 meters to go.
Ciccone won the three-man sprint across the finish line, followed by Roglic and Evenepoel.
“The bunch, led by Bahrain-Victorious, was setting a really strong pace as soon as we approached the final climb and then (Esteban) Chaves attacked,” stage winner Ciccone explained after being celebrated on the podium. “In my mind, I only had the thought that I needed to follow Evenepoel and Roglic. I just followed their wheels waiting for the last five hundred meters. A sprint with Remco and Primoz made this win really special, it is maybe one of the best wins of my career.”
Ciccone told Roadcycling.com he had decided to target the win in today’s stage to be able to dedicate the victory to his teammate Dario Cataldo, who was involved in a serious crash in yesterday’s stage 1 and was taken to hospital with multiple fractures and punctured lungs.
“After yesterday’s heavy crash of Dario (Cataldo), I promised the team today that I would do my best to win and dedicate the victory to him. Winning in this way has a special feeling and I really wish him all the best and that he recovers in the best way possible."
“I have Tirreno-Adriatico in my legs, I had to dig deep there, but we will try to see what we can do in terms of the general classification here. I came here with the ambition of winning a stage and I’ve done that and, as a result, I’m in a good position now. If I can fight for the general classification I’ll do it, but I don’t want to start putting too much pressure on myself already after just two stages.”
In the general classification Roglic leads the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Evenepoel is second, 6 seconds behind, while Ciccone is third, also 6 seconds behind the leader.
Tomorrow’s stage 3 will be a 180.6-kilometer mountainous ride from Olost to La Molina (Alp). The stage features two category 1 climbs and one Hors Categorie climb, so plenty of watch worthy action is expected. Look for the General Classification favorites to do their best to challenge their opponents in the stage and for team lieutenants to be granted the go-ahead to take part in attacks and breakaways.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for additional coverage from Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2023.