Volta a Catalunya 2018 – Stage 2 Preview

By David Hunter

Mataró – Valls 175km

A stage with a sting in the tail.

The majority of the stage is easy for the peloton, the focus is all on the final 20km and the climb, Coll de Lilla.

Finale

The climb is 5.3km at 5.3%, but that includes the gentle opening kilometre. The climb is on a wide highway, much of it is on a straight road. A fresh peloton will smash up the climb at a very fast speed. This speed will deter attacks until near the top, that is when we’ll see a GC rider attack.

This attack will likely fail, as the bunch will still be relatively big. The other problem for the attackers is that the descent is also very easy. Again, it is on wide highway, with straight sections.

Once in the final 3km, the roads do get narrower. The most important point is the final corner, with 700m remaining. This opens up to a very long finishing straight. Ideally, you go through the corner with two teammates ahead of you. The final 3km does encourage a late attack, the success depends on the organisation of the chasing bunch.

Weather

Mostly cloudy, although some forecasts suggest rain. The wind is coming from the north-west, meaning a tailwind for the climb and run for home. That will encourage attackers.

Contenders

Daryl Impey – he’s certainly not going to be dropped on the climb. Impey is a very hard man to beat, from a reduced sprint. The team arrive with a number of GC riders to protect, in a week long race, these riders should be willing to help their leader in the finale. I think we’ll see Verona and Haig put to work for Impey, but when they pull over, he’ll need a little assistance from one of the Yates boys. Impey has started the season in fine form, he’s still the World Tour leader. His last sprint success was in this race, one year ago. It is a race he likes.

Jay McCarthy – the Aussie will be keen on this stage. He looked in fine form today, helping Bennett to finish 2nd and even managing to hold on for 3rd place. These bonus seconds could well see him in the race lead, after stage 2. He and Impey are very closely matched in a sprint, but McCarthy did beat him in the Cadel Evans race. He’ll hope that Gregor Mühlberger will be able to guide him into a great position.

Alejandro Valverde – Movistar looked scary today, they have a huge amount of power. Valverde has won here before, escaping from a group of GC favourites back in 2015. He has the sprint required to challenge for the win, but he will struggle against Impey and McCarthy. To win the stage, he’ll need a perfect lead out by JJ Rojas.

Nacer Bouhanni – can he survive the climb? Given his current form, I think not.

Niccolo Bonifazio – he can climb well, for a sprinter, but I wasn’t impressed by him today. I think that Bahrain have better options in this stage, it’s one that Mohoric and Gasparotto will like.

Bob Jungels – late attacker number 1. Given his GC ambitions, this will get a reaction.

Miles Scotson – late attacker number 2.

Prediction Time

Movistar will gun the climb, dropping the sprinters. It’s not that difficult, but if a rider losses contact, they won’t make it back on. We will get attacks in the run for home, this is where teams will need to be very careful. I think there should be enough teams looking to chase and we’ll see Daryl Impey taking the win.

As usual, a massive thank you to @LasterketaBurua and @laflammerouge16 for the profile and hill pictures. Go and give them a follow on twitter and visit their websites.

*Overall Preview

David Hunter

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