Our team came out of the seven-day race with two stage victories and cemented its podium place in the World Tour rankings.
Quick-Step Floors was one of the main players at the 98th edition of Volta a Catalunya, which our team began by taking stage 1 in Calella with the young Colombian Alvaro Hodeg – the first neo-pro to notch up a World Tour win this season – and continued by being an aggressive presence regardless of the terrain and the fact it had one of the youngest line-ups in the event.
Maximilian Schachmann was another Quick-Step Floors rider to stand out from the peloton, on stage 6, when he braved the cold, snow and the rain for over 100 kilometers before winning from a two-man breakaway and adding to the team's impressive victory tally this season.
In between, Bob Jungels, Enric Mas and Jhonatan Narvaez lit up the race and didn't stop even on the final day, when the stage got off to a frantic start, which prevented any riders from going into a breakaway for more than 70 kilometers. It was only when the peloton entered on the first of the eight laps of the classic Montjuic circuit that a group took off, and when it happened, Ecuadorian Champion Narvaez was there.
On the 2.7km-long hill averaging 4.7%, the 21-year-old neo-pro and his seven companions pushed on to extend their lead to 40 seconds, but the audacious move wasn't to the bunch's liking, who turned on the cylinders and chased them down. The catch was made 35 kilometers from finish, but it didn't discourage Narvaez, who attacked for the second time, drawing other riders from the pack.
One of these was teammate Enric Mas, whose acceleration saw the Mallorcan get a 15-second gap on the severely reduced peloton. Max Schachmann followed him shortly, and so did a handful of other riders, who continued to apply pressure on the chasers, some of whom were interested in the stage win, while others were eyeing the general classification. The two Quick-Step Floors riders remained in the front until the penultimate lap, when they got reabsorbed by the leader's group, but that didn't stop our team from being prominent in the race.
Bob Jungels was the next to go clear on the descent from Montjuic and using his time trial skills managed to pull off a nice advantage inside the final 15 kilometers, only for an untimely puncture to ruin any chance of getting a good stage and GC result. Despite that blow, the Luxembourg Champion concluded the Volta a Catalunya as Quick-Step Floors' best rider in the general classification, helping our team retain its place on the podium in the World Tour standings after nine events.
"Had somebody said we would leave with two victories, we would have bought the idea last Sunday. With such a young team, I don't think anybody expected this outcome but we showed a lot of courage, which paid off. We got a perfect start on the week with Alvaro, who finished off the work laid down out by his teammates during the whole stage and took his first victory on the World Tour, just a few days after his maiden pro win", said sports director Brian Holm. "Then Maximilian surprised everybody on the penultimate stage getting his pro professional victory, after spending more than 100 kilometres in the escape, outsprinting his breakaway companion and holding off the bunch. Despite having many neo-pros, the squad did a super job, displaying that fighting spirit that is one of the defining traits of the Wolfpack, so we now leave Catalunya happy and proud."
Photo credit: ©Bryn Lennon/ Tim De Waele