Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 1: Bunch Sprint After a Day of Climbing20. March 2017, Calella (ESP) — Road Team
It was by no means an easy opening day of racing at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya with riders tackling 3500 meters of climbing before a final bunch sprint saw Davide Cimolai (FDJ) take the honors on stage 1 in Spain.
30km into the 178.9km race and several early breakaway attempts later, a group of four riders went clear at the front of the race and steadily built up an advantage which hit a maximum of three minutes.
As the peloton reached the 70km mark and the mountainous middle section of the day, a surge in pace saw them cut the breakaway’s lead by half before it leveled out at two minutes.
With two category one climbs to come, the gap fell once again with peloton bringing the breakaway to within 40 seconds before heading onto the 28km descent of Coll Formic.
On the approach to Alt de Collsacreu, the sixth categorized climb of the day, the final two breakaway riders were caught, and the race was back together with just 20km to go.
Despite a couple of late attacks on the run into the flamme rouge, the sprinters' teams were able to set up the anticipated bunch sprint with Cimolai the fastest of them all on the day.
All eight BMC Racing Team riders finished safely as attention now turns to the 41.3km team time trial tomorrow, March 21.
Quotes from the Finish Line
"I enjoyed every minute of my first day of UCI WorldTour racing. The tempo was never crazy on the climbs today, and in the end, the stage came down to the bunch sprint which we predicted might happen. The level is so high here, and the speed at the end was even quicker than I have experienced before. In the end, we didn't lose any time as a team, and we all finished safely in the bunch which is important as we look ahead to the team time trial tomorrow."
"Tomorrow is going to be important for the overall General Classification, and I am excited to be a part of it. My last TTT was in 2016, and this is going to be on completely different scale with seven fast, and experienced riders. It will be a special day for me mixed with a lot of suffering. The motivation is high within the team, and I want to do my best for the guys and see what we can do here."
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
"It was a difficult stage on paper today, but the pace was kept relatively moderate at the beginning, and the race was never out of control. On the final climb, we thought someone would make a move, but no one did. I think everyone was focussing on the rest of the week, especially tomorrow's stage, so teams were riding defensively."
"Tomorrow is perhaps one of the hardest team time trials that we have done. The roads aren't that wide, and it's a hilly course with fast downhills so having an eight-rider team will make it more difficult to handle the bike on the more technical parts of the course. I will definitely be an intesresting day as it's a crucial moment for the General Classification and every kilometer will count."
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Stage 1: Calella > Calella, 178.9km
Top 3: 1. Davide Cimolai (FDJ) 2. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) 3. Kristian Sbaragli (Team Dimension Data)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 46. Brent Bookwalter 47. Ben Hermans 61. Tejay van Garderen