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Sagan polishes the Volta with his first win of the year


The Slovak prevails in the ‘sprint’ in the sixth stage and refines his set-up for Flanders and Roubaix

Sagan, sprint winner in Matar.Toni AlbirEFE
What does Peter Sagan paint in the Volta? The question was pertinent, because the Catalan race is not exactly suitable for the triple world champion. In fact, never in his 11 years as a professional had he dropped by Catalonia and rarely by Spain in general: only four Vueltas and a Clsica de San Sebastián. At this time when spring takes over from winter, Sagan always had other targets with a sweet tooth, especially Belgian classics such as Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem who this year, so much glory has given them, miss him.

A priori, in effect, Sagan did not paint anything in the Volta, territory of climbers and fortune seekers, categories far removed from his legend. And he did not paint anything because the Slovak is always expected to leave his bus every day to win, that wherever he puts his eye he puts the bullet, and Catalonia did not seem like a good place to do it. But he goes and wins, because instinct leads him to it and because, make no mistake, the real competition was minimal. If Sagan didn’t paint anything, neither did they the best sprinters in the peloton. None were behind him in the Matar goal, in what is his first win this season.

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So it turns out that I did, Sagan was painting something on the Volta. And the organizers celebrate it, because his victory will have an echo for the race that could not have given it to him. Impey, Molano, Janse Van Rensburg or any other of those who succeeded him in the sixth and penultimate stage of the round. And although winning is pleasant, of course not, Sagan relativizes it, because he has already won 116 times as a professional and because his challenge is to return to being who he was in the face of the strength of the Van Aert and Van der Poel. If he opted for the Volta, it was precisely because he knew he needed kilometers on his legs after the positive for covid that he altered his plans to start the preseason. He already has them to compete in Flanders and Roubaix (if not postponed) to the best of his ability.

As he has been doing all his life, Sagan gave the most bland stage of this Volta luster and spice, almost 200 kilometers between Tarragona and Matar, passing through the Montmel Circuit, run at full speed. The day’s escape died 18 kilometers from the finish line and from then on there were only small skirmishes of runners who tried to escape unsuccessfully from the control of the peloton. The teams interested in a massive arrival did not allow it, although the approach was unorthodox, with Ineos controlling the head until the last kilometer, when the danger of the numerous roundabouts of the final section was already freed. Among the few fast men there were, Sagan was unrivaled.

And so the Volta approaches its last chapter, the usual stage with departure and arrival in Barcelona and the steps through the Alto de Montjuic, six this time. A stage in which the general classification will be finalized. The victory of Adam Yates already seems incontestable, but there will be a war for the podium. Porte is at 43 seconds, Thomas at 49 and then Valverde, Kelderman, Chaves and Almeida move a margin of four seconds (between 1:03 and 1:07). Between the Murcian and Vanhoucke (14 classified) there are another nine runners in less than a minute.

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