Wout Poels (Team Sky) soloed to the stage five win at the Volta a Catalunya on Friday after slipping away from a seven-rider breakaway group with about 15km to go and then holding off a chasing group of four.
The 187.2km stage from Rialp to Valls looked on paper like a day for the sprinters, but on an ultra-fast trek out of the foothills of the Pyrenees and down to southern Catalunya, Poels spoiled the day for the fastmen with his breakaway. Astana’s Dario Cataldo was second, 11 seconds later, followed by Wanty Group-Gobert’s Gaetan Bille and Dimension Data’s Kanstantsin Siutsou.
Already on the attack early on the stage, Poels made his definitive move when he broke away from a seven rider move on the final climb of the day, the second category Alt de la Lilla, and crossed the summit, 10.6 kilometres from the line, with some 20 seconds on his closest rivals.
The Volta a Valencia winner stormed down the fast descent into Valls, increasing his lead to around 30 seconds at one point, as lack of collaboration in a counter-move by Cataldo (Astana) and Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep) saw the two chasers swept up by fellow-breakaways Siutsou and Bille.
Picking the perfect line through the winding final kilometres in the town of Valls, Poels crossed the line outside the sports centre named after Xavi Tondo – the late, much missed former pro from Valls who died in a freak accident five years years ago – with enough time to savour the win.
“I knew the climb from the race last year and that it wasn’t too hard but that it would be my only chance to attack,” Poels told reporters later.
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