The Spaniard finished runner-up in Barcelona, on a stage animated by James Knox from the break.
The final day of the Volta a Catalunya was, by far, the most entertaining one of the entire race, with the Montjuic seriously spicing up things in the second part, despite averaging just 5.7% over 2.1 kilometers. Knowing the breakaway had a chance, James Knox, who earlier this week sprinted to a top 10 finish in Sant Feliu de Guixols, booked a place in the 11-man lead group which went on the attack early, opening a healthy margin of three minutes by the time they reached the first of the eight laps in Barcelona.
The Montjuic hill – which in the past had hosted the World Championships, as well as stage finishes at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España – lived up to its reputation and brought fireworks as soon as the race hit its gradients, with the front group splintering under the impetus of Davide Formolo (Bora-hansgrohe). Only Knox responded from the group and set out in pursuit of the Italian, while behind the peloton exploded, consequence of a massive crash and a series of attacks which threatened to shake up the general classification.
Gritting his teeth and keen on leaving everything out there, James continued the chase even after being caught by the Yates brothers (Mitchelton-Scott) on the penultimate lap. It took a big acceleration from Adam Yates to dispatch the 23-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider, who would eventually finish 16th.
“We knew it was going to be an unpredictable stage, so we said why not try something. The legs felt good, but the headwind on the circuit made it really difficult. When Yates came across, I tried to hang in there for as long as possible, but it was hard, so I got reeled in by the pack. Overall, it was a solid day”, said James Knox.
Always present near the front of what was left of the peloton, Enric Mas took advantage of a lull in the elite group once Yates got caught and attacked over the top of the Montjuic, charging on the fast descent and building a decent gap, which saw him take second behind Formolo for his first World Tour podium of the season. Mas was repaid for his bold move, moving up six places in the general classification and concluding Volta a Catalunya in ninth position, the best results of the 24-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider in three participations.
“It was a hard week, but today I felt much better than in the first stages and after James got dropped from the break, I saw an opportunity and went for it. The stage win was out of reach, but nevertheless, I am happy with how I felt and with today’s result, from which I draw a lot of confidence as I continue building towards the rest of the season”, explained the best-placed Spaniard in the overall standings of the 99th Volta a Catalunya, who raced here for the first time since finishing fourth at the Volta ao Algarve.
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