Cycling - Mezgec claims early lead in Volta a Catalunya

Giant-Shimano’s Luka Mezgec took the early lead at the Volta a Catalunya after a sprint finish in Calella.

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Cycling - Mezgec claims early lead in Volta a Catalunya
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Luka Mezgec (Giant Shimano), claims stage one of the Volta a Catalunya on March 24 (AFP)

The Slovenian, who won the Handzame Classic in Belgium last week, beat Orica-Greene Edge’s Leigh Howard and Omega Pharma-QuickStep to a victory that – including time bonuses – gives him a four-second lead at the end of day one.

“Winning here has been a target for me since the start of the season and to do it on the opening stage is just perfect,” Mezgec said afterwards.

“It was a hard day today and I suffered a bit on the climbs but the guys kept me going and supported me well.

"With 3km to go Warren Barguil brought me into position and then after that Georg Preidler took me right to the front with 1km to race.

“I lost a few places and had to go from far out to get through. Someone tried to box me in against the barriers but I was still able to get it at the end."

Race favourites Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished safely in the main group, although Team Sky’s Richie Porte was among a group of around a dozen riders who struggled with the pace and finished a couple of minutes behind.

Short results (click on links for full listings)

Stage 1:

1. Luka Mezgec (Slovenia / Giant) 4:09:13"

2. Leigh Howard (Australia / Orica) ST

3. Julian Alaphilippe (France / Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)

4. Paul Martens (Germany / Belkin)

5. Tosh Van der Sande (Belgium / Lotto)

GC:

1. Luka Mezgec (Slovenia / Giant) 4:09:03"

2. Leigh Howard (Australia / Orica) +4"

3. Julian Alaphilippe (France / Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +6"

4. Boris Vallee (Belgium / Lotto) +8"

5. Cedric Pineau (France / FDJ.fr) +9"

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