Volta a Catalunya (st. 1)
Belgian allrounder takes solo win after long breakaway, puts three minutes on bunch as Alejandro claims 2″ bonus at intermediate sprint, finishes in 15th place.
An exhibition ‘made in’ Thomas de Gendt (LTS) awarded the Belgian the stage win and a significant headstart as GC leader on stage one of the 2019 Volta a Catalunya, 163km in and around Calella with a very demanding parcours inland, nearly 3,000 meters of elevation gain in the Montseny mountains.
De Gendt was part of an early, six-man break from which he jumped away at the last of three Cat-1 climbs in the route, the Collformic, while still holding a 4’30” gap over the bunch. Neither the teams with sprinters nor those with GC expectations, including the Movistar Team, were able or interested in bringing the former Giro d’Italia podium finisher back.
The Blues, with Carlos Verona leading the field, were always focused on staying away from trouble -not exempt from incidents, such as a crash with no consequence for Imanol Erviti- and even took a 2″ bonus with Alejandro Valverde at the intermediate sprint of Vallgorguina, just over 20km from the end.
2’56” is the gap between De Gendt and Valverde -15th over the finish line, 4th overall- with still two days before the first mountain-top finish in Vallter 2000. Before that, the Catalan stagerace looks set to witness a duel between the sprinters at the 179km stage two, from Mataró to Sant Feliu de Guíxols.
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport