Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal has won stage 1 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in emphatic fashion, crossing the finish line solo, 2.38mins ahead of Maximilian Schachmann of BORA-Hansgrohe and 2.42mins clear of Bahrain Merida’s Grega Bole after a sensational performance over the difficult opening stage.
James Mitri of Burgos-BH, Dion Smith of Mitchelton-SCOTT and Patrick Bevin of CCC Team took to the start of stage 1 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. For Mitri it was the first race of the month, having last ridden in the Tour Cycliste International du Haut Var in France, and for Bevin it was a return to competition after the UAE Tour where a crash had just slightly aggravated an injury picked up in the Santos Tour Down Under. Dion Smith had been busy in Belgium with the opening classics of the season at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and he was taking to the start line of his first World Tour stage race of the year.
The opening stage of this year’s race started and finished in Calella and took in 163.7km across five climbs. The riders would go up the Port de Collsacreu twice before tackling the category 1 Port de Santa Fe del Montseny – a whopping 18.6km in length – then the shorter Alt El Muntanya, the steepest of the challenges averaging 9.7%; and the Coll Formic.
Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal made the break of the day in the company of Luis Angel Mate of Cofidis, Huub Duijn of Roompot-Charles, Alexis Gougeard of AG2R La Mondiale, Alaro Cuadros of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Angel Madrazo of Burgos-BH. But not content to share the load with the break all the way to the line meant that De Gendt would end up going for the long-range solo effort with a long way to go.
De Gendt’s move came on the climb up towards the Coll Formic where he crested the summit with 50 seconds in hand over Mate who’d tried to go with him initially but fell behind. The peloton were around 4 minutes in arrears at this point, with a few different teams compared to the usual flurry on the front. Euskadi Basque Country-Murias and Team Arkéa Samsic were quite prominent on the front of the bunch, but there was nothing they could do to stop De Gendt who arrived at 24km to go with a lead of around 4.30mins.
The last climb of the day peaked with 18.5km to go, leaving a pretty straightforward descent to the line if he could get over the Collsacreu; and at just 1.6km in length the climb was unlikely to pose too much of a threat to the Belgian. As De Gendt climbed his lead dropped to 3.46mins, but it was looking virtually certain that he was racing to the win but for a serious mishap on the road back to Calella.
No mishap arrived though, and De Gendt powered on with his lead still sitting at 3.30mins with just 3km remaining. De Gendt time trialled to the line, while behind him the peloton appeared to surrender to the fact that the stage was lost, although a late attack from Maximilian Schachmann did see him gain time on his GC rivals and secure second place.
Bevin and Smith both finished in the bunch with the same time as third placed Grega Bole, with a slightly less taxing stage to Sant Feliu de Guixols tomorrow likely to give any sprinters a little hope of stage honours
|Rank||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|8||BERNAL GOMEZ||Egan Arley||COL||4:17:14|
|9||VAN DER LIJKE||Nick||NED||4:17:14|