Thomas De Gendt takes stunning solo victory on Volta a Catalunya 2019 stage one

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) soloed to stunning victory on stage one of the Volta a Catalunya, attacking from the breakaway to take the overall lead by almost three minutes.

The Belgian had been part of a six-man breakaway, but was strong enough to drop his companions with more than 60km to go and hold off the peloton by well over three minutes for much of the day.

A lacklustre chase behind allowed him to comfortably ride home for victory, with Maximillian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) taking second place on the stage after a late attack.

The win is De Gendt’s fourth career stage win at the Volta a Catalunya, having won stage three last year.

How it happened

There was no easy entry into the 2019 Volta a Catalunya for the peloton, with a 163.7km route with five categorised climbs along the way from Calella to Calella.

A six-man break was able to get up the road early on, with the peloton seemingly content to let them get away. Those six, including Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Luis Ángel Maté (Cofidis), Huub Duijn (Roompot-Charles), Angel Madrazo (BH-Burgos) and Álvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural), were able to establish a maximum gap of around 4-30 on the bunch.

That gap never really dropped much further than three minutes thereafter, with the break working well together over the first category three climb and the long 18km first category climb of Port de Santa Fe del Montseny.

With around 70km to go, Maté and De Gendt were able to drop their companions on the Alto El Muntanyà, but it wasn’t long until De Gendt went out alone. As he pushed on, the gap stood at around 3-20.

The Belgian then crested the penultimate climb of the Coll de Formic before taking on the long descent to the final climb of Port de Collsacreu.

Still the bunch weren’t instigating any urgent chase, with the gap out to 4-30 with 28km remaining after De Gendt had sped down the descent.

He hit the top of the final climb with 3-47 at 18.1km to go and only then did the peloton really look to be starting to try to close him down.

It was no use however, with a De Gendt victory now looking a cert, and the peloton effectively stopped chasing with 6.6km, with a 3-25 gap.

That lull allowed Maximillian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) to attack, with no-one able to counter and the German able to maintain a small advantage.

Meanwhile, De Gendt closed in on his win with a comfortable advantage, sitting up to celebrate across the line at 2-38 ahead of the peloton, taking the overall lead of the race.

Schachmann was able to arrive at the finish in second place to take a six second bonus after De Gendt had taken the 10 seconds, with Grega Bole (Bahrain-Merida) winning the sprint from the bunch behind.

The Volta a Catalunya continues on Tuesday with stage two with a 166.7km route from Mataró to Sant Feliu de Guixols

Results

Volta a Catalunya 2019, stage one: Calella to Calella (163.7km)

1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, in 4-14-16
2 Maximillian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-38
3 Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida, at 2-42
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
5 Mikel Bizkarra (Esp) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
6 André Greipel (Ger) Arkéa-Samsic
7 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
8 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky
9 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, all at same time

General classification after stage one

1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, in 4-14-16
2 Maximillian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-48
3 Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida, at 2-54
4 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 2-56
5 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky, at 2-57
6 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb, at 2-58
7 Mikel Bizkarra (Esp) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
8 André Greipel (Ger) Arkéa-Samsic
9 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
10 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, all at same time

Read more at https://www.cyclingweekly.com

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