Mezgec Makes It Two in a Row
Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) has made it two in a row at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Mezgec took another bunch sprint to win Stage 2, a rolling, 164.5-km ride from Mataro to Girona, in 3:57:49. Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) took second, and Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) finished third. Mezgec has extended his overall lead.
The stage was rainy. In the first 10 km, Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Michel Koch (Cannondale), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Tomasz Marczynski and Marek Rutkiewicz (both from CCC Polsat Polkowice, and Jerome Baugnies (Wanty- Groupe Gobert) sallied off of the front. The peloton kept the break on a short leash, and the escapees led the bunch by 2:28 at 45 km. Sky, which had lost Richie Porte to illness, joined Giant-Shimano at the front, and the peloton reeled in the fugitives gradually.
With 26 km to go and the bunch within a minute of the break, Baugnies dropped his companions. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) countered from the peloton and forged a lead of nearly one minute.
In the last 20 km, GreenEdge, Giant-Shimano, and Trek took command at the front. The peloton absorbed the remnants of the break and went after Voeckler. With 10 km left, the Frenchman led the field by 0:50.
Teams with GC contenders brought them to the front. Voeckler had no chance against the combined horsepower of the GC squads and the sprinters’ teams. He was reeled in with five km left. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) appeared at the front at the one-km banner, but GreenEdge led the field into the last km. The Australian squad had Leigh Howard positioned perfectly, but Mezgec burst past the field on the right side of the road to take the win.
Before the stage, Mezgec was concerned about the Category 3 and Category 2 climbs (one of each), but he found them manageable. “The hills weren’t too bad today, much easier than on paper,” Mezgec said. “We had to push hard to get Voeckler back in the end, but after that it wasn’t too hectic as the race was strung out and the guys had me in position at the front. I was freezing on the bike on the downhill at the end and was a bit unsure how the legs would react in the sprint. At 500 m to go, I was not in perfect position, but when I jumped my legs were good.”
In the overall, Mezgec leads Ferrari by 0:14 and Howard by 0:16. Stage 3 will be the end of Mezgec’s day in the sun. The 162.9-km ride from Banyoles to La Molina will feature two Category 1 climbs, one of which will end the race, and a Special Category ascent. Who will win? Contador? Chris Froome (Sky)? Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!