Sprinters control first mountain stage in Volta a Catalunya.
The 97th edition of the Volta a Catalunya started today in Calella. The profile showed that the race will be something for the climbers. But it is always up to the riders who make the chase. On the first stage the sprinters dominated the race and finished it with a bunch sprint.
The first stage covered 178.9 exhausting kilometers with start and finish in Calella. A demanding parcour with 6 KOM´s and 2 intermediate sprints waited for the peloton which contented GC contenders like Froome and Contador. BORA – hansgrohe’s captain Rafal Majka was expected to challenge the two big race favorites in a week of hard racing in the Catalonian climbs.
It took a long time to build a breakaway group. With 30 kilometers of racing a group of 4 riders pulled finally away and were able to build an advantage of more than two minutes to the peloton. Plan from BORA – hansgrohe was to stay in the peloton and save energy for the finale and also for the upcoming stages. At the head of the peloton it was Lotto – Soudal and Cofidis who made the pace for their sprinters, a surprising move regarding the stage profile.
After the 4th climb a chasing group made their way up the road and tried to catch the breakaway of the day. Everything changed on the last climb of the day when the group was caught by the peloton and all was back together with 25 kilometers remaining.
The finale in Calella was exciting for the fans. The peloton raced the pace and approached the line for a bunch sprint. FDJ rider Cimolai took the victory ahead of sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis). Best BORA – hansgrohe rider was Cesare Benedetti, who finished 23th.
“We caught the breakaway on the last climb and rode together into the finish. A bunch sprint is not what I like, when there would have been a smaller group, I would have had good chances. My team tried to bring me in a good position but we rode a little bit too early and therefore there was no chance. It´s especially hard for me when the big sprint stars like Greipel und Bouhanni are in front of the race. We saved energy for tomorrow´s team time trial and hope for a good run.” - Jay McCarthy
“It took a long time until a breakaway was formed. Then the sprinter teams took control over the pace in the peloton, so we knew that the whole race will be controlled from them. The bigger teams stayed also in the peloton so it was clear that everyone is focused on the TTT. We also wanted to stay in the bunch and save energy for the finale and also for tomorrow.” – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director