Van den Berg is the fastest in the Volta | Cycling | Sports

Still with labored breathing, the American Sean Quinn and the British Hugh Carthy came to meet and embrace the Dutchman Marjin Van der Berg, who was already drinking water on one of the sidewalks in Lleida as if there were no tomorrow, as if it were his turn. life in it. After a few but generous drinks, however, and with the camera focused on him, he cracked a big smile and made the victory sign. It was no wonder, he had just proclaimed himself the fastest in the Volta, at least in the sprint who played against Coquard, the theoretical favorite and the one who was left off the podium, also against Marit (Intermarché, second place) and Lipeins (DSM, third). And he had a lot of credit because his team did not accompany him or pitch him, but rather he had to look for the beans on his own. “I kept going because the team didn’t arrive in a good position at the end, but everything turned out well,” he summed up, pragmatically.

The mood seemed different in the peloton during the start in Sort, because at last there was going to be a flat stage, where Pogacar would not put the handlebars before anyone else, even though on the opening day he came second – in the other two, in the mountains, imposed his law – then Schultz was invited to the party by surprise, a small miscalculation. There were the teams that wanted to consolidate a breakaway and those that wanted to add their first victory with a sprint, accomplished sprinters Coquard (Cofidis), Van den Berg (DSM), Hayter (Ineos), Schelling (Astana), Aular (Caja Rural), Groves (Alpecin) or even García Cortina (Movistar). Also Liepins and Marit. “I’m not fresh at all, it’s been hard and long days, but I’m ready for the sprint”Said Schelling. “I’m sure I’ll try to be in the fight, it’s the day to do it. There aren’t too many here sprinters, so anything can happen,” said García Cortina. “I feel good and I will try to be there,” added Hayter. Everyone raised their finger, a few were able to beat the copper, and only Van den Berg was able to raise his arms.

The opening of the fan for victory, the desire to close a breakaway, meant that there were several attempts, but only De Gent (Lotto), Andersen (Uno-X) and Berrade (Kern Pharma) managed to make it through, no matter what. that teams like Burgos-BH, Euskaltel and Caja Rural tried to absorb the escapees. Effort in vain because they enjoyed a 3m15s advantage. Cofidis then began to shoot, alternating with Alpecin, a day off for UAE, the team that supports Pogacar, who would only put on the suit in case the difference with the escapees put the leader’s green jersey into question. It was not the case, a day to oxygenate the legs taking into account that on Saturday there remains the terrible mountainous day from Berga to Queralt, also on Sunday to close the Volta with the circuit of very stinging climbs to Montjuïc.

Determined in their feat, in completing a stage in the face of a dog, the trident of escapees did not settle for what the minute hand indicated, because after crowning the only mountain pass of the stage – Port d’Àger –, De Gent and Andersen made a change of pace, the escape of the escape, and 60 kilometers down the road they took Berrade off the hook, pedaling helplessly, goodbye to glory, his legs couldn’t take it anymore. “They wanted to go all out and they blew me away… They were going stronger, they agreed and… that,” Berrade accepted with sportsmanship. The demarraje, in any case, did not worry the platoon too much, for a day everyone was generous, happy to have arrived at the sprint.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. Little by little, the multicolored snake was reducing the difference with the duo of escapees, a fight that gave brilliance to their teams but that was destined to fail, finally neutralized when there were 30 kilometers left to reach Lleida, El Dorado for the sprinters. Yes, Luis Ángel Maté (Euskaltel), always willing to advertise, to show off the interest of the team, tried to forge the Homeric adventure, him against the world, unfortunately a cheap soap opera of which the ending was known, even though he did not know. take away his merit. “A luxury to be able to ride at the head of the race in the Volta. So taking advantage of any loopholes they leave us. The ideal is that with the wind that it was there, a few other runners would have also jumped with me,” explained Maté. Trapped eight kilometers from the finish, he had to cycle at the boarding, several teams trying to take positions, a beautiful fight because the resolution was uncertain since there were no large rollers to launch the few. sprinters who asked for the time.

Cofidis put Herrada and Martin to throw Coquard; Movistar was trying to gain positions to put García Cortina in a good place; Ineos tried hard to get the rhythm so that Hayter could put on the turbo… But Van den Berg, who did not need any help other than what his legs, his fiery pedals, gave him, was enough to cross the first, to signify himself as the fastest of the Volta.

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