Telefónica-backed squad tries to split the peloton as break prevails, with Kron (LTS) as first GC leader. Crucial ITT coming up in Banyoles on Tuesday.
Dane Andreas Kron (LTS) took the day’s win and GC lead at the opening stage of the 100th Volta a Catalunya, over a demanding 178km around Calella, and over the Montseny mountains, with nearly 3,000m of elevation gain. Kron bested Luis León Sánchez (APT) after the two escaped into the last 25km into a quartet formed after the Movistar Team long worked to make the race harder.
The Telefónica-backed squad, here conducted by DS José Luis Arrieta, led the GC group for most of the climbs with Samitier, Verona, Cataldo and Pedrero, dropping all main sprinters yet unable to finish off the job as they didn’t find more legs to help into the flat prior to Collsacreu (Cat-3), where the four-man break went for glory.
At the sprint, Alejandro Valverde, fourth from his group, took 8th place, 16″ down, granting himself a late starting position for Tuesday’s 18.5km ITT at Banyoles / Pla de l’Estany. Also of note was a mechanical suffered by Marc Soler into the final kilometer, with no time loss as the incident occurred inside the ‘safety zone’ prior to the sprint.
Marc Soler: “We weren’t able to fight for the victory today, but there’s a lot still to come in this Volta, with so many demanding stages, starting with tomorrow’s TT. It’s all fine so far, we must remain calm because that move wasn’t decisive. The time trial should already be an important test – it’s not a really flat one, there’s some slopes and also some technical sections.
“It should be a different race with that TT and all circumstances – I think it should go well for us. I’m coming here to help my team-mates as much as possible. Alejandro and Enric are also doing well, and hopefully we can go for the GC with any of us three. I already felt more or less OK at Tirreno, and here at the Volta it’s all about picking up the pace, gaining that final racing form I need and try to stay as close to the front as possible.”
– TT start times (CET): Samitier 14.26, Pedrero 14.30, Cataldo 14.44, Soler 15.06, Verona 15.41, Mas 16.08, Valverde 16.21
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport