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“It’s great to have this win and the Volta is a great race, but it doesn’t make up for the disappointment of San Remo. It’s true I considered not coming and sending my bikes back home."

Photo: A.S.O.

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ALBERTO CONTADOR

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ALEXEI TSATEVICH

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AXEL DOMONT

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BMC RACING TEAM

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BENOIT VAUGRENARD

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CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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CAMERON MEYER

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CARLOS BARBERO

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DARIO CATALDO

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DARYL IMPEY

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DIMENSION DATA

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EF EDUCATION FIRST-DRAPAC

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ENRICO GASPAROTTO

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GEORG PREIDLER

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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KRIS BOECKMANS

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LORRENZO MANZIN

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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LOUIS VERVAEKE

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NACER BOUHANNI

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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RICHIE PORTE

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SIMON GERRANS

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TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOBIAS LUDVIGSSON

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TOM DUMOULIN

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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VOLTA A CATALUNYA

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WANTY - GROUPE GOBERT

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WARREN BARGUIL

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WILCO KELDERMAN

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21.03.2016 @ 21:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two days after the biggest disappointment of his career when he suffered a chain problem while being in a winning position at Milan-Sanremo, Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) got his revenge by claiming a dominant sprint win on stage 1 of the Volta a Catalunya. After a great lead-out from Geoffrey Soupe, he easily distanced Ben Swift (Sky) and Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) in the reduced bunch kick to take both the stage victory and the overall lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Nacer Bouhanni: This victory can’t make up for the disappointment of Sanremo 

"It was not an easy day. Especially in the end when Movistar set a fast pace with Sky. I had to really dig deep in order to stay in front. Moreover, I had the fatigue of Milan-Sanremo in the legs. However, my team did a perfect job and in the sprint I believed in my chances,” Bouhanni said.

 

“It was a very hard finish as we saw today, but we worked well with Movistar on the last big climb. There are maybe three or four opportunities for me in total, including tomorrow, and we’ll work in all of them as best we can.

 

"It was not an easy day. The team did a great job all day to try to get a sprint. In the final Movistar pulled to try to make the race hard and I struggled since I'm still tired from Sanremo and I have not slept for two days. 

 

“It’s great to have this win and the Volta is a great race, but it doesn’t make up for the disappointment of San Remo. It’s true I considered not coming and sending my bikes back home.

 

“At 150 metres from the line, I couldn’t do my sprint, my chain jumped and it was all over. It was a nightmare. In the last two nights I barely slept, the finale has haunted my head. I lost Milan-Sanremo 200 meters from the finish, I saw my dream getting shattered. Disillusionment and frustration remain, even 48 hours after La Primavera, because I had a huge chance to win a classic.


"The team worked 110% for me. We had made ​​many sacrifices for Sanremo and then we lost it all. The frustration does not pass so quickly after just 48 hours, but today's victory is still a good sign.

 

"It was a nightmare, I had the perfect race until the final sprint. I've had two nights almost without sleep. Despite the disappointment, I decided to go here for the team because the Volta is a great race and because it gave me the opportunity to get big wins like this.

 

"Tomorrow is a second chance for the sprinter . I think that we will have 3 or 4 chances, but meanwhile it is good to be able to win today.”

 

Ben Swift after another second place: I was beaten by a faster rider

Ben Swift sprinted to second place on the opening stage as the Volta a Catalunya kicked off in Calella.

The Brit backed up his runner-up finish on Saturday's Milan-San Remo with another impressive sprint, but was just edged out by Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) on the gradual uphill sprint.

 

Swift was set up by a strong performance by Team Sky, with Vasil Kiryienka and Nicolas Roche leading the team to the front over the final climb of the Alt de Collsacreu.

 

Roche took advantage of a moment of indecision in the bunch to attack with 5km to go on a brief uphill ramp, holding off the peloton for three kilometres along the coast road before being reeled back in.

 

The sprint then took hold, with Kiryienka pulling off and Geraint Thomas leading out Swift for second. The bunch sprint saw a star-studded field of GC men finish on the same time, with Chris Froome, Wout Poels and the rest of Team Sky crossing the line safely ahead of more selective stages to come.

 

Team Sky rode well as a unit across the 185.2km test, sitting back as Cofidis and then Movistar took turns on the front.

 

Bonus seconds in the sprint mean Bouhanni moves into an early race lead, with Swift four seconds behind in second.

 

The Yorkshireman praised the performance of the team on the first of seven stages, telling TeamSky.com: "It was a great team performance once again. Obviously the sprinting is secondary here and we're here to try and win the GC. I think we rode really well as a team. We were at the front where we said we wanted to be and I think we had everything under control.

 

"I gave it a good go in the sprint but just got beaten by a faster guy.

 

"Hopefully tomorrow I'll be back into the swing of things. We had a hard San Remo and not an ideal day yesterday with all the flight delays. So hopefully now with a day out of the way I'll feel alright tomorrow."


Orica-GreenEDGE give Daryl Impey rare chance to sprint in Catalonia

South African time trial champion Daryl Impey sprinted to third place today on stage one of Volta Catalunya.

 

Santos Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans provided Impey with a strong lead out in the final meters of the WorldTour race into Calella. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) proved too quick and took the race victory ahead of Impey who held on for third place.

 

Sport director Neil Stephens explained how it was the team plan to give Impey an opportunity to sprint today, after consistently being a hardworking teamplayer.

 

"Daryl is going really well at the moment," Stephens explained. "He's at the finish of a really good block of racing. He is always leading out Matthews, he's leading out Gerrans, he's working for the boys in the hills and it was time for some pay back.

"Its not as if we sacrificed anything on a sporting level, Gerrans is on his way up and Daryl is already up there at the moment so why not give it a go with him. 

"This morning in the meeting everyone was really willing to go for Daryl, he's a giver all the time so it's nice for the team to be able to give him an opportunity.

 

"He gave it a good shot, perhaps we hit out a touch too early with Gerrans but thats just the way it is. We were going for the win today, we tried and we didn't quite pull it off but all in all the boys did a really good job."

 

ORICA-GreenEDGE kept themselves out of trouble over the climbs during today's stage until the race eventaully came together for a bunch sprint. Tomorrow the riders face more climbing but again the race has the potential to end in a bunch sprint.

 

"Today was pretty lumpy," continued Stephens. "Tomorrow it's a little less, but still a tough stage so we will see how it pans out with Gerrans and Impey for the final."

 

Enrico Gasparotto after fourth place: This makes me confident for Amstel Gold Race

The first stage in the Volta a Catalunya offered a great opportunity for Wanty-Groupe Gobert to show themselves. And that is exactly what the team did. Boris Dron was part of the day's breakaway and battled for the mountain jersey - a classification in which he sits in second place. Enrico Gasparotto sprinted to fourth place in Calella. 

Enrico Gasparotto said:


“I am happy with how I rode today. I already knew the finish because we had the same stage last year. I felt good the entire day and tried to stay at the front of the climbs with the big guys. At the front there are fewer risks, also because some of the descents were wet. 

”I was well-positioned in the final. There aren’t many sprinters in Catalunya, only Bouhanni, Swift, Impey, and I managed to stay behind them and do my sprint. The most important thing is that Amstel Gold Race is in four weeks and that I feel good. I feel confident that I am on track for my dreams of that week. 

”Tomorrow is my birthday. We also did this stage last year and I came in 11th. I hope to do better tomorrow." 


Boris Dron said:


"It was a good day for the team. The breakaway quite easily got clear after ten kilometres. I tried to get the mountain jersey but I am one point short now. Maybe I'll try again in the next days but first it's important to recover well. 

”Our team leader Thomas Degand had a mechanical problem on the first category climb. He had to chase hard to get back to the peloton but luckily he didn't lose any time. That is the most important thing."

 

Alexey Tsatevich takes fifth in Catalonia despite lack of strength

The 96th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya kicked off in Calella on Monday with Team KATUSHA’s Alexey Tsatevich in the hunt for a stage win. He worked hard to be in a good position for the group sprint and came away with a fifth place finish on the first day of the seven-stage race.

 

”It was my first race after two weeks at home, so it's normal that I did not felt great today. I missed some power in the legs, but I still wanted to fight for a good result in the final. In the last km Ilnur Zakarin brought me in front and I want to thank him for the help. Later I tried to find a good position for the sprint and I did my best and finished 5th. This is not bad but I hope for something more in the next stages. I hope to find my racing rhythm and to get better results,” said Alexey Tsatevich.

 

Team rider Matvey Mamykin crashed on the final climb at 19 km to go, but appears to be OK.

 

Two riders in the top 10 and two distinctive jerseys for Caja Rural in Catalonia

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA started out this year’s Volta a Catalunya on a very good note, showing the tenacity and eagerness the team is so well known for. Lluis Mas was the first rider to show humself as he joined the early breakaway together with two other riders. At the first intermediate sprint, Mas proved to be faster than his companions, taking maximum points. Later, the strong Spaniard returned to the peloton as the final part of the stage began.  
 
Numerous attacks occurred on the last 50 km but at the end, it all came down to a bunch sprint in Calella. Once again, the Caja Rural - Seguros RGA riders were present near the front as Carlos Barbero sprinted to 6th place, while Eduard Prades finished 9th on the stage. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) took the win.
 
The strong performance by the team not only meant two riders in the top10 but also two leaders’ jerseys. Barbero will wear the white jersey as best young rider, while Mas leads the intermediate sprints competition.
 
Carlos Barbero said: “I was very eager to do well today. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in an ideal position for the sprint. However, my legs felt good and that is a very good sign after so many days without racing. Now, I hope to improve further during the week”.
 
Volta a Catalunya is the first World Tour stage race on Spanish soil for Caja Rural - Seguros RGA this season. With two riders in the top10 and two leader’s jerseys, the team will start stage 2 with a huge confidence boost. Another reduced bunch sprint is expected in Olot on Tuesday afternoon. Last year, Prades finished 7th on this stage. He knows exactly what to expect.  
 
He said: “It’s a selective finish. The final kilometers are slightly uphill all the way. Therefore, we have to stay alert and be near the front to set up Barbero in the best possible way so he can fight for the stage win and keep the white jersey”.

 

Excellent WorldTour debut for Verva-ActiveJet in Catalonia

Jordi Simon finished seventh for the VERVA ActiveJet Team in their first every WorldTour race.

 

"The FINALE was very fast. Sky SETa strong pace, but I could position myself well in the last kilometer. My feelings on the stage were not too sensational, but the finish went very well and I can be pleased with the attitude. The most important stages are yet to come, but the beginning looks promising," he said

 

Kevin Reza shines on tough day for FDJ in Catalonia opener
The first stage of the Tour of Catalonia was not a cakewalk for the FDJ team even if Kevin Reza was eighthæ

 

"The day was complicated, explains sports director Thierry Bricaud, "with a series of setbacks that we had to handle at best. Sébastien Chavanel was not well and was fairly quickly distanced but finished in time. oUR sprinter Lorrenzo Manzin was not good either, complaining of back pain, and was also behind. Benoît Vaugrenard suffered a crash in the feed zone and also complained of back pain. I think that there is nothing serious but he had a rough time to reach the finish."

 

Furthermore, Jérémy Maison and Cédric Pineau were victims of a split in the final and three riders from the FDJ team finished in the bunch in the winner's time.

 

"In the last kilometers, after the long descent of the last climbs, Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier and Arnaud Courteille took care of Kevin Reza and positioned him in anticipation of a sprint. He has Milan-San Remo in the legs and was not on a fabulous day but he did a good sprint, taking a top 10 which is not bad at all."

 

Successful comeback for Barguil, ill Dumoulin loses time in Catalonia

The race saw Warren Barguil return to racing for the first time since his accident. With 30km to go, his teammate Georg Preidler was part of a chasing group but too many teams were interested in the bunch sprint and the riders were all back together with 20km left.

 

For Team Giant-Alpecin, the aim was to be in a good position for the sprint and to challenge for a good result. Preidler sprinted to a nice 10th place closely followed by Tobias Ludvigsson in 13th place.

 

Georg Preidler said: “I felt pretty good in the finale and with Warren we decided to be active and follow some attacks. In the sprint finish, it was just very chaotic and not really organized. Warren managed to stay safe and I sprinted to a satisfying 10th place.”

 

Tobias Ludvigsson said after the race: “It was nice to be back racing again after Paris-Nice and to see Warren on the bike again. In the sprint finish, I tried to put Warren and Georg at the front of the bunch but there were a lot of riders fighting for positions and we lost contact with each other.”

 

Coach Morten Bennekou said: “Today was a hard stage with five climbs. In the finale, we had four riders including Warren who had a good day today and Georg finished 10th on the stage. Unfortunately, it was a challenging day for Tom and he lost some time in the general classification.”

 

Kiel Reijnen tests himself in sprint at WorldTour level

It was not an easy 175.8-kilometer opening stage to the Volta a Catalunya Monday, and when the rain fell over the category one and category two climbs with 55 kilometers to go, the wet roads added to the difficulty, splitting the peloton on the treacherous descents.

 

"It was a hard course, even though the race was fairly predictable, it was a lot of climbing," explained Kiel Reijnen, the team's top finisher in 11th place. "For guys like me, it's going to be hard no matter what. Cofidis' chase was just a little bit too hard early on, and the break came back kind of early, and with the wet it was really dangerous, and the group started to split." 

 

The bunch, reduced to around 40 riders over the wet descents, swelled again as the roads dried, and after a late-breaking 7-man escape was tamed with 19 kilometers to go, it was apparent a bunch sprint would conclude stage one.

 

"It was all about positioning, but when the roads dried up the bunch came back together for a sprint," continued Reijnen. "I had some help from Haimar [Zubeldia] in the sprint; he did a good job to take me to the big turn into town. And then after that I was just following wheels, and I had the wheel of Bouhanni, and I felt good in the position, but the rollers in the finish made it really difficult. 

 

"The group would surge, then go slow, so it was a really messy sprint and a lot of tired legs. Some guys were going really fast; others were going backwards. I gave it a good effort, but in the end, the position was not perfect. I hoped for a little bit more, but it's a good start."

 

Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) showed excellent climbing from to conquer the hills and easily sprinted to the win ahead of Ben Swift (Sky) and Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge) to grab the first leader's jersey in the seven-day World Tour race.

 

Julian Arredondo, Peter Stetina, and Haimar Zubeldia finished in the first peloton alongside Reijnen, while Ryder Hesjedal, Riccardo Zoidl, Julien Bernard and Eugenio Alafaci arrived with the second peloton, showing the first day was far from a typical sprinters' stage. Director Alain Gallopin explained the stage, and the team goals for the rest of the week:

 

"We had a plan to protect Kiel for the finish, and he finished right with the top 10, that's not bad. The level here is very high, and you can see it was a hard day with a lot of climbs. Then with the rain after the first category climb, the group split in the downhill with some crashes. 

 

"We had four guys in the front, and four guys that finished in the second peloton. We will try again tomorrow because it could be a sprint again tomorrow, we will see with Kiel again.. He told me he was not super in the finish today; it was a difficult day for him.

 

"We don't have big expectations for the GC – I read 19 names to the guys in the [pre-race] meeting that could fight for the top of GC – but our goal is for a top 10. Ryder is here to help the team and get ready for the Giro. What I saw today is that Julian [Arredondo] could be our leader, we just need to see what will happen on Wednesday. Also, Peter, who is looking better and better on the bike. I am happy for him.

 

"I think day by day we will decide the plan, depending on the results of the guys. Last year we did not have a strong team here, and Riccardo almost pulled off the win in La Molina – he was caught with only four kilometers to go. So we will try and take our opportunity in the same way, looking at the race every day."

 

Richie Porte after Catalonia opener: It wasn’t an easy stage

Philippe Gilbert was up there in the sprint and crossed the line in 14th place.

 

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said the stage went to plan for the team.

 

“The team did a great job of protecting our leaders, Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen. We finished at the front of the race and really it was the perfect stage to get things going and let the legs work a bit before we get into the harder climbing stages.”

 

Porte echoed Ledanois’ stage analysis.

 

“Today was all about staying out of trouble and staying up the front. It wasn’t an easy stage but it’s always nice to get the first stage out of the way and concentrate now on the harder stages to come,” Porte said.

 

Alberto Contador safely through Catalonian opener

Alberto Contador got his Volta a Catalunya campaign underway today, finishing the 175.8km course safe and well with the peloton after a bunch sprint in Calella. Lining up with some of the pro peloton’s strongest Grand Tour riders, Tinkoff kept their leader safe as he crossed the line with the same time as the peloton, with Ivan Rovny the first Tinkoff rider home in 16th position.

 

The first day’s racing covered 175.8km, starting and finishing in the popular tourist town of Calella. The race wasted no time in setting a hard pace, with a breakaway group forming 5km into the stage, and crossing five categorised climbs, one of which being the first category Coll Formic, at 1,1,45m, reaching the summit 118km into the stage. While the climbs dominated the course profile, the sprint trains formed on the descent of the Alt de Collsacreu, and in spite of a last ditch attack from Team Sky’s Roche, the peloton caught up with 2km to go and the finish was decided by a bunch sprint. All Tinkoff’s riders crossed the line safely, with Rovny, Contador, Poljanski, Trofimov and Hansen taking the same time as the sprinters.

 

The stage panned out as the team expected – the aim being to bring team leader, Alberto Contador, to the finish safely, as Sport Director, Sean Yates, explained from Calella.

 

“It was largely a straightforward stage today – a few guys went away early on and everything was kept under control by the peloton as other teams were looking for a sprint. This meant that we could sit back and look to keep Alberto Contador safe. It was complicated by a bit of rainfall on the downhill of the last climb where the bunch split considerably, but the guys stuck around Alberto and were up the front.”

 

“As expected the race came back together after this and when the counter attacks came it always looked like ending in a bunch sprint.” continued Yates.

 

On a stage with no significant incidents or crashes, Yates was pleased to see the team cross the line without incident.

 

“The only mishap was that Matteo Tosatto had a puncture which was unfortunate as he was looking after Alberto in the finale, but it worked out fine and the guys stayed safe.”

 

Tuesday sees one of the race’s two flat stages, at 178.8km in length. While the course passes over the first category Alt de Els Angels, the course is relatively flat, and the team’s aims will be much the same as today’s, explains Yates.

 

“Tomorrow is largely the same and for us as we’re here without a sprinter, so it’s about conserving energy and staying upright, looking ahead to the stages that will be more decisive for us in the fight for the overall.”

 

Axel Domont tries late attack on first day in Catalonia

"I found myself in front,” he said. “I admit that it was not planned! 25 km from the finish, I attacked before the final climb and there was no organized team to chase. So I went a little unplanned. I understood that it was impossible and that we should not insist. I see that I have good sensations despite recent efforts. It's comforting. I did not know how I would recover from the double of Paris-Nice/Milan-San Remo. It seems to go well and we will see how the next days will evolve.”

 

Solid comeback for Ben King in Catalonia

"It feels great to be back racing,” said Cannondale’s Ben King who did his first race since breaking his fibula in January. “I missed the craziness and Johnny Weltz's pep talks. It's awesome to be part of such a great team atmosphere. In the end it was an extremely tough stage even at 100%, so I can't be disappointed and will continue fighting for the team. Even when I was suffering in the rain, I was happy."

 

Movistar and Nairo Quintana safely through Catalonian opener

The 2016 Volta a Catalunya started in Calella on Monday without any incidents for the Movistar Team, the traditional, 175.8km loop around Calella bringing plenty of splits yet no surprises like in previous editions. Arrieta and Laguía’s squad worked hard together all day, with the likes of Erviti, Soler, Anacona, Rubén Fernández and José Herrada bringing the day’s main breakaway to a close, avoiding risks on the rainy roads and getting through the descents with no troubles for Nairo Quintana, who debuted in Europe today.

 

The bunch, reduced to barely fifty riders in the section between the climbs of Collformic (Cat. 1) and Montseny (Cat. 2), about 40km from the finish, kept regrouping until the finish line, where a mass sprint brought Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni (COF) a clear victory. Fastmen will have another shot tomorrow in Olot’s finish, a final ‘warm-up’ for GC contenders before mountains invade Wednesday’s route.

 

Cameron Meyer surprised to take mountains jersey in Catalonia

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were part of the early action as Cameron Meyer broke away with Boris Dron (Wanty Groupe Gobert) and Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural) inside of the first 10 kilometers of the stage.

Meyer and his two fellow breakaway mates rode ahead of the peloton to a maximum lead of 7 minutes. They werecaught just over the top of the climb and with still 50km to go. Before being caught though, Meyer had accumulated enough points on the first 3 categorised climbs of the day to be awarded the King of the Mountains jersey after stage 1.

 

With no designated sprinter present at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka would not participate in the mass sprint. It was a good day out for the African Team though as Meyer happily pulled on the red climbers jersey after the stage and the Australian now also sits in 4th position on GC.

Sports director Alex Sans Vega said:


“The first stage of Catalunya is quite tricky as it is a normal road stage, so there is no race leader to start with and no team to take control from the start. So in the past the break has made it on the first stage but today there was a sprinter like Bouhanni so Cofidis also helped to control the break from early on which resulted in a sprint of about 100 riders.

 

”For our team we had hoped to have a rider in the break and Cameron was there. Once in the break it became obvious that we should try to win the sprint and KOM jersey. Cameron did really well to pick up enough points for the KOM jersey so he went onto the podium today and he will wear the red jersey tomorrow.

 

”We also had 4 riders in the first bunch at the finish line, Merhawi Kudus, Igor Anton, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Cameron were there and this was good because they give us some good options for the GC later in the race. So all in all it was a good day for us. 

 

"The group went really fast, but I am a little surprised that I have the jersey. It was very hard since there was rain on the descent but everything went well,” Meyer told Spaziociclismo. "We have tried many times to go on the attack. Inthe end we were only three in front with the group close behind. In the long climb Sky and Movistar worked hard and unfortunately we were caught taken." 

 

 "I'll try again in the fifth and sixth stages after the two mountain stages .”

 

Sick Wilco Kelderman abandons the Volta a Catalunya

Wilco Kelderman abandoned the first stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya due to illness. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s overall hope was struggling with the pace of the peloton early in the race. Front man Robert Gesink came through the day without any problems. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) won the stage.

 

“It wasn’t a good day for us because of Wilco,” sports director Addy Engels said. “We were convinced of his chances to come through this stage this morning. He got sick a couple of days before, but it went well afterwards. He was struggling again this morning. During the stage, he was already in trouble early. Unfortunately, he wasn’t even able to follow the peloton when the pace wasn’t that high.”

 

The Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders went for the race’s final without Kelderman. It was even tougher due to the bad weather.

 

“The weather caused some stress and the profile was quite hard at that moment, as well,” Engels continued. “The team came through it without any problems. Koen Bouwman and Alexey Vermeuelen weren’t part of the first group, but this is their first WorldTour race, so they have to focus on their personal development.”

 

Robert Gesink came through the first day in Catalunya feeling well.

 

“There is never an easy day at this level, but thanks to my team-mates, I was always in the right places at the right time,” he said. “We came through this tricky first day very well. It may look like a normal sprinters' stage with Bouhanni as the winner, but it definitely wasn’t.”

 

There’s another tough stage on the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya’s programme on Tuesday.

 

“Valverde [Movistar] won this stage last year and the peloton was thinned more that day than today,” Engels said. “It depends on the wind, as well. The wind can make it trickier, but it’s also possible that the stage turns out the same way as today.”

 

Astana climbers with safe return to racing in Catalonia

“It was a good day, not easy for several reasons, but positive for us,” said Dario Cataldo after the bunch sprint in Calella.

 

“The race route was similar to last year with some narrow roads in the middle of the stage while we were in the mountains. Then we met some light rain and the roads become wet before the two most important descents. As a consequence, all the teams tried to keep their leaders at the front to avoid any risks and the speed increased significantly.

 

“Most of us were back racing after a training period so the race rythim was not exactly in our legs toda. Nonetheless, we felt pretty confident even in the fast finale.”

 

Mixed day for Lampre-Merida in Catalonia opener

There were no top results for LAMPRE-MERIDA in the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya but the future opportunities for the main rider for the general classification for the blue-fuchsia-green team, Meintjes are still good.

 

LAMPRE-MERIDA was in the front group with four riders: captain Meintjes, Grmay, Durasek and Bono who was strongafter the 270km he spent in the main breakaway of Milano-Sanremo. There were no blue-fuchsia-green cyclists fought in the final sprint since none of the four riders are sprinters

 

This is the analysis from sports director Orlando Maini: “Considering the composition of the front group, we can be satisfied with the work made by the team in supporting the captain Meintjes who was in the front positions of the race. However, we missed the opportunity to fight for a top result, since Cimolai was not in the first group: he’ll have another chance in the second stage, which is suitable for the sprinters."

 

Sick Kris Boeckmans abandons in Catalonia

On the penultimate climb Louis Vervaeke attacked for Lotto Soudal and he rode for about 20 kilometres ahead, he never got much advantage though. He was caught during the final climb of the day.

 

His teammate Kris Boeckmans abandoned the race after 22 kilometres due to illness.

 

"He had problems with his stomach and vomited," team manager Marc Wauters explained to Sporza. "Kris has been trying to start, but he was still sick. Then it is better to leave the race and recover.

 

"It was a long trip. We only arrived in the hotel at 1am at night. Kris fell sick during the night. But it's probably a virus that will not last long.”

 

The stage was too hard for the team’s sprinter Tosh van der Sande.

 

“Just not good enough today ! Tmrw another day... #VoltaCatalunya,” he tweeted.

 

”At least I gave it a shot today, next time on better moment and some more luck,” Vervaeke tweeted.

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