The opening stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya ended in a mass sprint with Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) taking a relatively easy victory ahead of Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Daryl Impey (Orica-Greenedge).
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. It would be a medium climbing day as the riders had 5 categorised climbs to deal with after leaving Callela on a 175km circular route.
Meyer and his two fellow breakaway mates rode ahead of the peloton to a maximum lead of 7 minutes. The two teams controlling the pace at the head of the peloton though were Movistar and Team Sky. The main obstacle of the day was the category 1 Coll Formic and Team Sky ramped up the pace on the slopes of the Formic. This injection of pace saw Meyer and co. being caught 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.
The peloton had also split due to the high pace on the positive gradient but with still a fair distance to go until the finish in Callela, a number of riders made it back to the peloton. A few riders tried their luck with a late attack on the run home, but with Team Sky setting a consistently high tempo on the mostly downhill 20km to the line, nothing would stick.
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 our African Team though as Meyer happily pulled on the red climbers jersey after the stage and the Australian now also sits in 7th position on GC.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
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.