Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana: Rui Costa swoops on GC victory with final-stage attack

Portuguese veteran does the double, stuns the overnight classification contenders in Valencia finale.

Photo: Getty Images

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Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) galloped out of a small lead group in the final kilometers and outsprinted Thymen Arensman (Ineos Grenadiers) to win the stage and dive on overall victory at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

The Portuguese veteran’s late attack Sunday stunned a tightly knit bunch that was battling for GC victory in a sprinter stage stacked with intermediate bonus points.

It was Costa’s first classification victory since 2017 and his second win in eight race-days since he joined Intermarché this winter.

Arensman finished second in Sunday’s final stage, while Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan) won the sprint for third out of the chase group.

All eyes had been on overnight leader Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and stage 4 winner Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) for Sunday’s final romp into Valencia after the two started the day split by four seconds.

However, Geoghegan Hart didn’t make the front group, and Ciccone was caught in the bunch of leaders that were distanced by Costa’s perfectly timed move.

Ciccone was shuffled into second overall as Pello Bilbao finished for Bahrain Victorious.

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S4: Tao Geoghegan Hart sprints to redemption

Geoghehan Hart won his first race since the 2020 Giro d’Italia. (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) hadn’t won a race since the 2020 Giro d’Italia.

On Saturday, the Brit surged back into the fray with victory ahead of an elite group of GC riders in the fourth stage of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

The team opened things up early with Thyman Arensman going solo only to be reeled in at the base of the final kicker. Geoghegan Hart used his pure speed to win out a powerful group of 10, but couldn’t take the overall lead.

Giulio Ciccone (Trek Segafredo) finished in the front bunch to retain the overall lead, now just 4 seconds ahead of the Brit. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) slotted into third.

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) finished just behind in 11th at 6 seconds off the pace.

The race concludes Sunday with a tricky stage featuring two steep climbs in the first half of the stage before a long run back into Valencia for the finale.

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S3: Simone Velasco wins as break holds off peloton

Simone Velasco
Simone Velasco (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Simone Velasco (Astana-Qazaqstan) won a three-man sprint for the line as a late breakaway held off the peloton on stage 3 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

Velasco was part of the day’s escape along with Bob Jungels (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), Lawson Craddock (Jayco-AlUla), and Sander De Pestel (Flanders-Baloise).

Craddock launched an attack from the break with 30km to go but was caught by the others, minus De Pestel who had been dropped, some 13km later.

Craddock was quickly dropped by Velasco, Jungels, and Gregaard, who charged on toward the finish. It looked as though they would be caught before the line as the likes of Bahrain-Victorious and Movistar rallied behind to close the gap.

However, the peloton got it wrong and the three leaders still had a gap of about 100 meters as they moved into the finishing stretch.

Velasco launched his sprint from the back of the break and had a clear advantage as he hit the line, as Jungels crossed  for second with Gregaard in third.

“For sure, today was a very hard day. We were full gas all day and especially in the first kilometers, the bunch was just behind us, but we continued pushing. Then, in the climb, I tried to do my best and we arrived here at the finish line with three guys and I won in the sprint,” Velasco said.

“I’m super happy and this win is for our masseur, who passed away just a few days ago. This is for him and his family” he continued, dedicating his win to team soigneur Umberto Inselvini, who died during a training camp in Altea last week.

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S2: Giulio Ciccone climbs to stage win and race lead

Giulio Ciccone wins stage 2
Giulio Ciccone wins stage 2 (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) did his now traditional celebration of chucking his glasses into the crowd as he sprinted to victory on an uphill finale on stage 2 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

Ciccone was part of a small group of riders that survived the pace of the leading group up the final climb up the Alto de Pinos. The Italian kicked clear shortly after the final bend, pulling out a sizable gap by the time he crossed the line.

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) squeezed through to take second place with Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) rounding out the podium in third place.

U.S. climber Brandon McNulty launched a bid for victory with around two kilometers to go and was joined by neo-pro Thomas Gloag (Jumbo-Visma), but the UAE Team Emirates rider was reeled back inside the flame rouge. He crossed the line in 11th place at eight seconds behind Ciccone.

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S1: Biniam Girmay storms to convincing win

Biniam Girmay at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Biniam Girmay at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

After notching up two podium places last month in Mallorca, Biniam Girmay blasted to his first victory of the year on stage 1 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

The Intermarché-Circus-Wanty rider launched his sprint with 300 meters to go and held onto his advantage on the slightly uphill finale to win by a comfortable margin. His victory continues the stellar start to 2023 enjoyed by the Intermarché squad.

“First of all, thanks to my team for what they did today. They really did a great job. I’ve been waiting for this victory for one month and I’m in quite good shape now. Two times in Mallorca, I was quite close and now to find the victory was amazing. I’m super happy,” Girmay said.

Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) crossed the line in second place after using up vital energy to chase back onto the pack after getting dropped over a series of climbs in the second half of the stage. Movistar completed the top 5 with Iván García Cortina, José Joaquin Rojas, and Alex Aranburu finishing one behind the other.

Girmay’s win means that he moves into the race lead ahead of a hilly stage 2 from Novelda to Benissa.

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