De Marchi, who is making his return to the peloton at the Spanish stage race following his nasty crash last year, went back to doing what he does the best today with the Italian forcing an early move that saw a five-rider breakaway go clear in the opening kilometers of the stage.
After a little over 30 kilometers of racing, the leaders’ were sitting more than six minutes 30 seconds up the road and they continued to hold onto a solid advantage going over the day two categorized climbs, Dos Aguas and Alto Millares, which topped out with just over 70 kilometers to go.
De Marchi looked strong as he continued to push hard at the front of the race but with the road leveling out before the short but steep climb to the finish line, the peloton was difficult to outrun. However, the Italian continued to work well with his fellow breakaway companions before eventually, he was caught with less than 10 kilometers, of the 181-kilometer course, to go.
One rider from the original leading group tried to continue to hold off the peloton but it wasn’t long before he was swept up at the stage was set for the showdown between the puncheurs and the climbers on the difficult climb.
After coming back together only a handful of kilometers earlier, the race immediately exploded on the steep slops of the final two-kilometer ramp up to the finish line, which had an average gradient of around nine perfect, but Van Avermaet, who was sitting in the wheel of Trentin after being supported brilliantly by his teams in the run up to the climb, was well-placed.
The length and gradient of the climb made it difficult to know which style of rider it would suit but ultimately Van Avermaet was able to show his strength, battling hard as part of a small and select group of favorites as the difficulty increased further in the final moments of the day.
In the end, it was Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) who emerged victorious after the sharp turn towards the line with Van Avermaet going on to take a solid tenth place in Cullera, while teammate Serge Pauwels also finished inside the top twenty.
Quotes From The Finish Line:
Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was good for us to have Dema in the breakaway. I was a hard stage all day long and we tried to do the finish for me. The team did really well put me into a good position and everyone did a great job. I was where I had to be at the bottom of the climb I think. I just did my best and tried to stick with the front of the race for as long as possible to get a good result.”
“I think the guys that we were expecting to be there were up there. I knew it would be super hard in the end and I came quite close just by following them. This climb was just too hard for me so to finish in the top ten was nice. When we did a recon of this finish earlier this week, I immediately thought that it would be a little bit too steep and long for me so, against the real climbers, I think I performed well and I am really happy with the way I felt.”
Alessandro De Marchi:
“To be honest, I was suffering a lot today. After around two hours or so I really started to feel tired and was suffering a little bit with the pace. We had two really strong guys in the group, Van Emden and Cavagna, so it was really difficult for me to collaborate with them in a good way. However, I did my best and in the end, I am just looking at this stage as an important training opportunity. I realized that I am missing a bit of race pace after so much time off and although you can do a lot of things in the winter, racing is completely different.”
“This is the starting point of my season though, it is not the finish so it can only get better looking ahead.”
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Stage 2: Torrent > Cullera (181km)
Top 3: 1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) 2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 3. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain – McLaren)
CCC Team Top 3: 10. Greg Van Avermaet 17. Serge Pauwels 24. Víctor de la Parte