Mezgec Wins Stage 1 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) has won Stage 1 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. The Slovenian took a bunch sprint to win the hilly, 169.7-km ride in and around Calella. Leigh Howard (GreenEdge) finished second, and Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished third.
At 13 km, the break of the day formed. Romain Lemarchand (Cofidis) and Boris Vallee (Lotto-Belisol) escaped, and the pair’s advantage maxed out at eight minutes. The peloton chased, and on the Category 1 Alt de Montseny, with 41.7 km left, the bunch was with a minute of the break. Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) bridged up to the leaders, but the bunch reeled in the three on the ascent of the day’s final climb, the Category 3 Alt de Collsacreu.
Paul Martens (Belkin) countered, and Julian Arredondo (Trek) and Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) joined him. They were reeled in, and Mikael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale) took a dig, along with Romain Hardy (Cofidis) and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin). The trio banged out a 20-second lead.
With about 10 km left, Cherel and Hardy rode took a wrong turn at a roundabout and left the course. Kelderman pressed on alone, but the peloton reeled in the Dutchman with less than five km remaining.
GreenEdge and Cannondale led the bunch in the final kilometers. Giant-Shimano jumped into the front on the left side of the road. Howard attacked, but Mezgec powered past the Australian along the barriers to win.
Mezgec said that the ruggedness of the course was difficult for him but that his teammates helped him. “It was a hard day today,” the Giant-Shimano man said, “and I suffered a bit on the climbs but the guys kept me going and supported me well.
“With three km to go, Warren Barguil brought me into position and then after that Georg Preidler took me right to the front with one km to race. I lost a few places and had to go from far out to get through. Someone tried to box me in against the barriers but I was able to come through and get it at the end.”
In the overall, Mezgec leads Howard by 0:04 and Alaphilippe by 0:06. Stage 2 will be a rolling, 168-km run from Mataro to Girona that will feature a Category 3 climb and a Category 2 ascent, but neither will be near the finish line. The stage will probably finish in another bunch sprint. Will Mezgec win again? Will he keep the overall lead? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!