WorldTeam Vanhoucke 5th in first mountain stage Volta a Catalunya
Lotto Soudal rider Harm Vanhoucke once again showed his young climbing legs as the 23-year-old Belgian finished fifth in the first proper mountain stage at the Volta a Catalunya. Climbing towards the ski resort of Vallter 2000, Vanhoucke launched a brave counter-attack, persevered and finished in fifth place. Adam Yates took the day’s honours and becomes the new overall leader. Harm Vanhoucke jumps to tenth place on the general classification.
“It’s nice to see my good shape from Paris-Nice confirmed during this first summit finish at the Volta a Catalunya”, Harm Vanhoucke began. “I’m even feeling a bit better than I did last week. To finish fifth among such big names just feels fantastic. It was a pretty chaotic climb as no team really took the initiative. There were a lot of attacks and everybody looked at GC leader Almeida to do the chasing and close the gaps. When Kuss, Yates and Valverde got away, it was hard to follow them. After Chaves’ counter-attack, the pace went down a notch and I saw an opportunity to attack.”
The summit finish atop Vallter 2000 meant the first real test for the general classification riders at the Volta a Catalunya. Already in the opening kilometres of the ascent, which topped out at over 2,000 metres above sea level, it was Valverde who started the fireworks. Eventually, the Spaniard was joined by Kuss and Adam Yates, who opened up a considerable gap. The Brit Yates proved to be the strongest and soloed to the stage win. A few kilometres from the finish, Harm Vanhoucke accelerated from the chasing group, persisted in his effort and eventually crossed the line in fifth place, which sees the youngster climb to tenth place in the overall standings.
“Even though I knew the finishing climb from two years ago, I really suffered until the finish. I had to dig deep in the final kilometres to maintain my advantage on the chasers. Due to the high altitude, I reached the line completely empty but in the end it resulted in a nice fifth place. Keeping this top ten place in the overall standings would be nice. The team will support this ambition and who knows that maybe a second stage victory will follow in the coming days…”, Harm Vanhoucke concludes.
Foto: Photo News