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Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) used his descending prowess to win the second stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Mancomunitat de la Valldigna.
The Slovenian shot away on the most technical part of the descent from the Alto Pla de Corrals inside 10km to go and held off the chasing peloton by 13 seconds.
Giovanni Lonardi (Polti Kometa) won the sprint for second over Simone Consonni (Lidl-Trek).
“I was always so focused on this stage. In this race, I think it’s the one that suits me best. Also yesterday but yesterday, the breakaway made it,” Mohorič said.
“We lost two of the teammates that were supposed to give us lead support and help and control the breakaway, so unfortunately we didn’t have the firepower to control the race, but some other teams … kept control of the peloton and in the final, the guys did a perfect job to deliver me. Pello [Bilbao], Rainer [Kepplinger], Santiago [Buitrago] and Nicoló [Buratti] before the climb, so it was really a team effort and I need to thank them for that. “
Mohorič’s gap wasn’t nearly enough to dislodge leader Alessandro Tonelli (VF Group-Bardiani-Faizané) from the race lead after the Italian escaped with teammate Manuele Tarozzi on stage 1 for a two-minute lead in the overall classification.
However, Tarozzi lost contact on the final climb and dropped out of the GC lead, pushing Mohorič into second 1:08 behind Tonelli, but he dismissed his chances of winning the overall race.
“We are here with Pello Bilbao and Santiago Buitrago for the GC. I think the fourth stage is too much for me – too hard, too much climbing, but they showed they’re in good condition. So maybe they can fight for a podium.
“I think there are also some other teams that are really strong and they will need to take control in the race if they want to fight for the overall.”
Oier Lazkano (Movistar) also lost touch and Felix Großschartner (UAE Team Emirates) moved into third at 1:28, one second ahead of Buitrago.
A flatter stage is on tap for Friday’s third stage, opening the door for the sprinters on the 161.3km route from San Vicente del Raspeig to Orihuela.
How it unfolded
Bahrain Victorious lost two riders overnight, with Yukiya Arashiro suffering a reaction from a bee sting and Kamil Gradek out with a stomach bug, leaving 123 riders to enjoy another sunny day in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on the stage 2, a 162.7km trek from Canals to Mancomunitat de la Valldigna.
After the exploits of VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizané on stage 1, there was no delay in the attacks with seven riders clipping off at the flag drop ahead of the first climb, the Alto de Benigámin, crested at kilometre 14.
Gorka Sorarrain (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) made the move for the second day, along with Txomin Juaristi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Eugenio Sánchez (Kern Pharma), Sinuhé Fernandez (B&B Hotels), Johan Meens and Sébastien van Poppel (Bingoal WB), and José Maria Garciá (Illes Balears Arabay).
Meens led over the climb as the group had over two minutes but this time, the peloton wasn’t making the same mistake they did on the opening stage when they let the breakaway get nine minutes and never caught the Bardiani duo, Alessandro Tonelli and Manuele Tarozzi.
After Van Poppel suffered two mechanicals and was dropped from the lead group, Sorarrain led the breakaway over the category 3 La Drova to secure his lead in the mountains classification and went back to the bunch, leaving five riders to try to hold their advantage.
The peloton was having none of it, and kept their lead not much more than a minute before bringing it down to seconds heading toward the final climb, the category 2 Alto Pla de Corrals, crested at 10.2km to go.
Sánchez let go as the road tilted upward, the remaining riders had only seconds and, with 17km to go, they looked back and saw the peloton on their heels.
A few surges on the climb failed to break the bunch significantly. Großschartner led over the top but it was Mohorič who came forward on the descent to test the nerves of his rivals.
On a brief interruption to the descent, a much-reduced peloton latched on and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) came to the front to control the pace ahead of the trickiest part of the descent.
Mohorič shot away using his superior descending skills as the road began to snake down the mountain and, as he came onto the flat finishing 2km, he was still powering away for the victory.
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