In the first summit finish of the Volta a Catalunya, at Vallter 2000, Matteo Badilatti was able to show his climbing skills. The 28-year-old Swiss rider, who joined the team over the winter, managed to follow the main favourites until the flamme rouge on Wednesday. He eventually placed seventeenth on the finish line, and is now looking forward to other opportunities this week.
The usual mountaintop finish at Vallter 2000 was on the menu for the third stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Wednesday. Although the course did not include other climbs than the final one, the riders still had to cover about 190 kilometers before getting to the bottom. Following a fast start, nine riders eventually opened a gap over the peloton: Thymen Arensman (Team DSM), Thomas Champion (Cofidis), Alexander Evans (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Alexander Kamp (Trek-Segafredo) , Francisco Galvan (Kern-Pharma), Colin Joyce (Rally Cycling), Sean Bennett, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Qhubeka ASSOS) and Clément Venturini (AG2R-Citroën). Their advantage even went up to twelve minutes in the first half of the race, before the leaders’ teams increased the pace, seeking the stage win. Eventually, the bunch tackled the final climb to Vallter 2000 (11.4 km at 7.5%) just two minutes behind the breakaway. The gap continued to reduce from the first slopes, as the peloton set up a fast pace straight away.
“Racing in front gives you morale”, Philippe Mauduit
Some favourites, in the likes of Alejandro Valverde, also launched the fight early on, and the peloton was then quickly reduced to 30 riders or so, including Matteo. Badilatti. Alongside the main GC contenders, the Swiss climber then hung on as long as possible, and was able to stay in the group until the flamme rouge. A kilometre further, he eventually took 17th on the stage, one minute behind winner and new leader Adam Yates, but just thirty seconds behind most of the favourites. “It was a very nice stage, with a beautiful final climb,” commented Matteo. “It was difficult to say how the condition was or what to expect from this stage. At the beginning of the climb I actually was not feeling good. Still, it was a good test to see where I stand and what we still need to work on. During the climb, I was concentrated on myself, trying to give my best. Of course it’s motivating to be with the best, and it is good for confidence. It also makes me want to work even harder to be better and help the team achieve good performances”.
“Even if we cannot be satisfied with a 17th place, Matteo did a good climb and he had a good reaction after what happened on Monday”, added Philippe Mauduit. “For him, it’s a good performance. However, it is difficult to say that we really are satisfied this evening. Sébastien and Attila weren’t in the mix and we obviously expected better. The climbers were still too much at the back today. And when you’re at the back, you necessarily end up suffering at one point. I want to change their mindset from that point of view, and I will keep insisting on it.” With all of the team’s riders now more than five minutes down in GC, an aggressive style of racing is expected in the coming days. From this Thursday, a new opportunity arises with the queen stage towards Port Ainé. “There is an exceptional field on this Volta a Catalunya,” Philippe concluded. “Therefore, it is not easy to make plans, but if we don’t want to suffer, we need to go into the breakaways. Racing in front gives you morale because you become an active player of the race and you reverse the trend. Even if the breakaway has little chance to make it tomorrow, we will have to try”. “I will try to recover well and we will see what is possible in the next few days,” said Matteo.