Nairo Quintana has won the Volta a Catalunya ahead of Alberto Contador, Daniel Martin, with Australia's Richie Porte finishing fourth.

Quintana (Movistar) successfully defended his seven-second advantage over Contador (Tinkoff) on the final stage, an eight-lap course covering 136.4 kilometres in and around Barcelona.

Katusha's Aleksei Tsatevich won the stage in a sprint with Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jarlinson Pantano of IAM Cycling following.

Quintana stayed close to Contador from the start and his lead was never in jeopardy - finishing with the same seven-second gap he carried into the closing stage, becoming the third Colombian to win the race after Hernan Buenahora in 1998 and Alvaro Mejia in 1993.

Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), the 2013 winner, finished third overall at 17 seconds behind Quintana. Defending champion Porte was fourth.

"I'm very, very happy. I have started the year well. This is really an incredible win, one of the hardest fought I've had in my career. Thanks to the team for their phenomenal work. We suffered for this and today we have been rewarded,” Quintana said.

"We started the day with more strength than legs. Three of our riders were ill, with José Herrada and Marc Soler down with flu, so we had to defend my race lead with five. It was as hard-fought a stage as I have ever ridden. I have won the Volta by just seven seconds, which isn't a big margin and shows that my rivals were strong.

"I wouldn't say I'm getting ahead of myself. There are still many races to go, and we start them from zero, but having beaten all the big names who were here gives me confidence that I am doing things well with the focus on my dream of winning the yellow jersey. Winning here in Catalunya also means that I am still growing, still maturing, and progressing towards the big goal that we have set this season. I will keep accumulating race days and hopefully reach the start of the Tour de France in good shape. I'll be in the Basque Country, then at Liège and Romandie.

"This win is dedicated to my team-mates Adriano Malori and Jonathan Castroviejo, wishing them both a full and speedy recovery. It is also for the fans, especially the Colombians. A few years ago it was a surprise for me to see them here: now it feels normal, but it is still great to see them, not just here, in France too, and all over Europe. They are wonderful people."

The week long event in northeastern Spain attracted some of cycling’s top riders, including Tour de France champion Chris Froome, who finished eighth overall, 46 seconds behind Quintana.

Monday 28 Mar 2016

 

The performances of Richie Porte (4th) and Tejay van Garderen (5th) gave BMC the teams classification at the Volta a Catalunya, collectively finishing 1min 8sec ahead of Cannondale.

Porte tied with Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) for third, an equal 17 seconds behind race winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) but was relegated from the podium on a points count back.

Porte remained happy with his week of racing despite not finishing among the top-three.

"I think it was the perfect race at this time of the year. I didn't really expect to hold onto the podium when Dan Martin was sprinting for bonus seconds but I think I showed that my form is good. It was always going to be a bridging race so I'm happy with my performance and it was a good chance to race with Tejay for the first time."

Van Garderen agreed with Porte's evaluation of the race.

"I had a lot of fun racing with Richie and I think we showed how aggressive we can be working together. I'm happy with my race and I think it can only get better from here. I now head to altitude camp and I'm looking forward to my next block of races after that.”

“It's a pity that I missed the win for four seconds at Paris-Nice and seven here, it would have been to round it off. However, if I had to choose between the form I have right now and achieving victory with worse sensations, I would definitely prefer the good sensations, especially ahead of the season's big goal, the Tour de France.

“In hindsight, had my tactics on the climb to Port Ainé been different I might have had more chances for the GC. Instead of trying to control the two BMC riders and Nairo, I should have let him take more responsibility. However, what was done was done and today it was really complicated to build any significant time gap. Still, as I said, I'm overall satisfied with how I feel right now.”