[Underneath article was written before the start of the Volta a Catalunya and has not been updated]
The battle for the overall triumph is likely to come down to the stages 2 (ITT), 3 (mountain) and 4 (mountain), while the hilly criterium race on the last day of action is always compelling, but seldom leads to significant changes on GC.
Following a stage for attackers on day one, the Volta a Catalunya continues with its first medium length ITT in thirteen years.
The following two days are tailor-made for climbers, although the uphill action of stage 3 is limited to the finish climb. The road to ski station Vallter 2000 ascends for 11 kilometres, while the average gradient sits at 7.6%.
The 4th stage is much harder. The route takes in two huge intermediate climbs – Port de Toses and Port De Cantó – before serving a final haul up to Port Ainé. The finish climb adds up 18.5 kilometres and the average gradient is 6.8%
Movistar won’t settle for less than a renewed GC victory in Catalonia. Following triumphs in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the Spanish armada saw Miguel Ángel López take the 2019 GG win ahead of Adam Yates and Egan Bernal. But do they have anyone left in their ranks who can live up to the high expectations?
Other recent winners of the Volta a Catalunya are Alejandro Valverde (2018, 2017, 2009), Nairo Quintana (2016), Richie Porte (2015) and Daniel Martin (2013).
Favourites 2021 Volta a Catalunya
*** João Almeida, Lennard Kämna, Richard Carapaz, Adam Yates
** Geraint Thomas, Wilco Kelderman, Hugh Carthy, Brandon McNulty, Enric Mas
* Daniel Martin, Simon Yates, Steven Kruijswijk, Nairo Quintana, Michael Woods