Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) sprinted to victory on stage two of the Volta a Catalunya on Tuesday, with teammate José Joaquin Rojas following his compatriot into second.
The stage two route was another lumpy affair, with a category three climb coming shortly before the line, which made it diffcult for the specialist sprinters in the race to be present right towards the end.
Moreover, adverse conditions of rain and wind made it a tricky day for the riders on the 192km stage, while TV pictures of the race were extremely limited due to the weather. Live broadcast became reduced almost to just the home straight, where Valverde, who won the overall in Catalunya in 2009, powered round his rivals to lead home the front group.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) also finished in the lead bunch, along with race leader Maciej Paterski (CCC), who remains in control of the overall with a four second gap on Pierre Rolland (Europcar). Both Contador and Froome remain 2-50 back on Paterski.
Earlier on, the day’s breakaway formed after around 11km and consisted of Sam Bewley (Orica-GreenEdge), Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida), Tom Stamsnijder (Giant-Alpecin) and Heiner Parra (Caja Rural). The foursome built-up a maximum lead of 4-50, but that time gap soon began to steadily fall and all the members of the break were back within the peloton with 21km left to race.
But it was Valverde who eventually proved victorious when the race came back together, taking his second win of 2015 as he builds form ahead of a tilt at the Ardennes Classics next month.
Volta a Catalunya stage two (193km), Mataró – Olot, 192 km:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, 5-02-49
2. José Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Movistar, same time
3. Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling, st
4. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement, st
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
6. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, st
7. Eduard Prades (Esp) Caja-Rural, st
8. Fabio Silvestre (Por) Trek Factory Racing, st
9. Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha, st
10. Davide Malacarne (Ita) Astana, st
1. Maciej Paterski (POL) CCC Sprandi 4-33-41
2. Pierre Rolland (FRA) Europcar at 4 seconds
3. Bart de Clercq (BEL) Lotto-Soudal at 8 seconds
4. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar at 2-40
5. José Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Movistar at 2-44
6. Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling at 2-46
7. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky at 2-47
8. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Team Sky at 2-48
9. Dan Martin (Ire) Team Sky at 2-49
10. Julien Simon (FRA) Cofidis at 2-50