As usual, the Volta a Catalunya came to an end on Sunday around Barcelona and the Montjuic hill. Despite a hilly circuit and some attacks, the general classification did not really change in this seventh and last stage. Lenny Martinez proved aggressive in the final, but he eventually completed the day in the main group of favourites and therefore concluded the race in twelfth place overall. With this noteworthy result, the French climber puts an end to a very promising week of racing.

Towards the Catalan capital, the riders knew exactly what to expect this Sunday in the closing stage of the Volta a Catalunya. After a hundred kilometres, the traditional circuit of Montjuic, on the heights of Barcelona, was on the menu: five laps of eight kilometres including a very short but steep climb. For some, however, the race started from kilometre 0 with the breakaway battle. Like the day before, it proved very hard and lasted for about thirty kilometres through the first climb of the day. Nine men eventually managed to hit the front, namely Carlos Verona (Movistar), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R-Citroën), Richard Carapaz, Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost), Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers), David De La Cruz (Astana Qazaqstan Team) and Tsgabu Grmay (Jayco-AlUla), but the bunch never gave them a large lead. “We expected it to start full-gas and that there would be hard racing all day, so the guys were ready to give everything to support Lenny,” said Jussi Veikkanen. Entering the final circuit, about fifty kilometres from the finish, the breakaway only had a one-minute gap, and the peloton immediately increased the pace. Riders dropped from the back at first, but in the second lap, Remco Evenepoel already broke away along with Primoz Roglic and Marc Soler.

“I am happy that I managed to meet expectations”, Lenny Martinez

Within the main bunch, the other GC contenders also tried to accelerate, but no one managed to make a difference. In the penultimate lap, Lenny Martinez also did take responsibility. “He tried because we expected a big fight for the top-8 positions”, explained Jussi. “We hoped there would be a hard race, but in the end, it didn’t really happen, so we didn’t have the opportunity to enter the top-10. The climb was quite short, and the favorites were more or less on the same level, that’s why there was no real damage. Lenny wanted to create some moves, but everyone was kind of exhausted, so it didn’t work out. We knew that the competitors behind Lenny in GC were quite far, so we could afford to take some risks. We wanted to be in the action, it did not pay off, but you don’t get anything without trying”. “I made an attempt on the circuit, but there was not much collaboration,” explained Lenny. “Once Roglic and Evenepoel went, we certainly did the climb fast, but then everyone was looking at each other”. Consequently, far behind Evenepoel and Roglic, first and second on the stage, a large favourites group joined the line for fourth place.

As a consequence, the general classification did not change despite the action on Sunday, Lenny Martinez thus confirming his twelfth place overall. “I am happy”, said the young man. “We are close to the goal we had set ourselves, namely the top-10 overall. I learnt a lot this week with Lada and all my teammates. They really trusted me, and I need to thank the team again. It’s my first WorldTour race as a leader, so I’m happy that I managed to meet expectations and perform well. I was also happy to see that the feelings got better and better over the week”. “We had two leaders at the start of this Volta a Catalunya, but we got unlucky with the crash of Michael on day 1”, concluded Jussi. “We still managed to bounce back, and Lenny’s performance is promising for the future. We now know his abilities at the WorldTour level. With a few exceptions, the world’s best were there, so it was by no means a second-rate race. Quite the contrary. We now need to strengthen the team work to support him even better on certain mountain stages”.

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