Spain’s Alejandro Valverde won a sprint finish to claim the second stage of the Tour of Catalonia on Tuesday.
Poland’s Maciej Paterski maintained his overall lead in the race, following the 191.8km run from Mataro to Olot.
He had won Monday’s opening stage after being part of a three-man breakaway that finished almost three minutes ahead of the peloton.
Movistar’s Valverde edged out team-mate and compatriot Jose Joaquim Rojas and Switzerland’s Martin Elminger of IAM in the sprint finish after more than five hours in the saddle.
Four riders got in the day’s breakaway but in cold and wet weather, New Zealand’s Sam Bewley, Dutchman Tom Stamsnijder, Tsgabu Grmay of Ethiopia and Spain’s Luis Mas (Caja Rural) failed to hold on despite more than 170km in the lead.
Having opened a gap of more than five minutes at one point, they were swallowed up with 18km left as Paterski’s CCC team took up the chase and the stage was set for a bunch sprint.
The bumpy finale was ideally suited to Valverde, who did not disappoint.
Wednesday’s 156.6km stage starts and finishes in Girona.
Former Tour de France winners Chris Froome of Britain and Spain’s Alberto Contador are among the riders expected to challenge Valverde for overall victory, although last year’s winner Joaquim Rodriguez pulled out of the race on Sunday due to a stomach virus.
Results from the 191.8km second stage of the Tour of Catalonia from Mataro to Olot on Tuesday:
1. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/Movistar) 5hr 02min 49sec, 2. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) same time, 3. Martin Elmiger (SUI) s.t., 4. Jonathan Hivert (FRA) s.t., 5. Wilco Kelderman (NED) s.t., 6. Julien Simon (FRA) s.t., 7. Eduard Prades (ESP) s.t., 8. Fabio Silvestre (POR) s.t., 9. Pavel Kochetkov (RUS) s.t., 10. Davide Malacarne (ITA) s.t.
1. Maciej Paterski (POL/CCC) 9hr 36:20, 2. Pierre Rolland (FRA) at 4sec, 3. Bart De Clercq (BEL) 8, 4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) 2min 40sec, 5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) 2:44, 6. Martin Elmiger (SUI) 2:46, 7. Wout Poels (NED) 2:47, 8. Nicolas Roche (IRL) 2:48, 9. Daniel Martin (IRL) 2:49, 10. Julien Simon (FRA) 2:50
– Agence France-Presse