Wed, Mar 26, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Mezgec sprints to first-stage Catalunya victory

AFP, BARCELONA, Spain

Slovenia’s Luka Mezgec of Team Giant-Shimano sprinted to victory in Monday’s first stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

Mezgec led the peloton home in the 169.7km stage in 4 hours, 9 minutes, 13 seconds, finishing ahead of Australian Leigh Howard of Orica-GreenEdge and French rider Julian Alaphilippe of Omega Pharma-Quick Step Pro Cycling.

Tour de France winner Chris Froome and his Spanish rival Alberto Contador both finished in the lead pack on the first day of the seven-stage Tour.

The second and third-placed finishers in last year’s Tour de France, Nairo Quintana of Movistar and Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha, were also in the peloton.

Froome’s Skt Pro Cycling lieutenant, Australian Richie Porte, was not however, finishing 2 minutes, 58 seconds down.

The stage got off to a quick start, with Belgian Boris Vallee of Lotto Belisol and Frenchman Romain Lemarchand of Cofidis breaking away at the 13km mark right through to the final kilometers, having built up a lead of eight minutes on the chasing peloton at one stage.

In the stage’s last climb, the category three Collsacreu, the two riders were joined by Spaniard Amets Txurruka of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and then reeled in by the Sky team.

The run-in to the finish line featured several attempted breakaways, all smothered by the peloton, until Mezgec successfully broke in Calella and held his nerve to the line.

Yesterday’s second stage saw the riders tackle a 168km stage between Mataro and Gerona, Spain.

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