Belgian serial escapist Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) won his fourth career stage of the Volta a Catalunya at Monday’s opener. De Gendt was in the day’s breakaway and skipped away on the hilly course to take the GC leader’s, points and King of the Mountains jerseys after a 60-km solo raid. Canada’s Michael Woods came in with the other GC riders +2:42.
— Lotto Soudal (@Lotto_Soudal) March 25, 2019
Organizers threw a lot of climbing at the riders on Stage 1: three Cat. 1 ascents and two Cat. 3s. The final climb, Cat. 3 Col de Collsacreau, peaked 18-km before the finish line in Calella.
A tough stage (Calella – Calella, 163.7km) to kick off the 99th #VoltaCatalunya, with five ranked climbs which can favour a breakaway. If that move doesn't stick, then the winner should emerge from a reduced bunch sprint. pic.twitter.com/LoZZ570fnz
— Deceuninck-QuickStep (@deceuninck_qst) March 25, 2019
De Gendt At It Again
To no one’s surprise, raider extraordinaire De Gendt was part of a sextet of fugitives that bolted before the first climb. De Gendt took the maximum KOM points on the first passage of Collsacreau and came second on Cat. 1 Santa Fe del Montseny, a 25-km slog.
🏁100km to @calellaesmes
🚴 6 riders in breakaway / Ciclistes escapats / Ciclistas escapados@DeGendtThomas @luisangelmate @HuubDuyn @AngelMadrazo @acmorata @gougeardA
⏱Current Gap 3min50s pic.twitter.com/JM6ltctnPE
— Volta a Catalunya (@VoltaCatalunya) March 25, 2019
De Gendt went solo on the Cat. 1 Coll Formic, which started after a 2.3-km, 9.7 percent wall called Alt El Muntanya. With 38-km remaining, he was 4:30 ahead of the peloton, where world champion Alejandro Valverde snapped up two bonus seconds and Egan Bernal grabbed one at the final intermediate sprint of the day.
There was no real effort to bring De Gendt back and the Belgian finished 2:38 ahead of Bora-Hansgrohe’s Max Schachmann.
With only three Cat. 3s on Tuesday, sprinters like Michael Matthews and Andre Greipel will fancy their chances.
2019 Volta a Catalunya Stage 1
1) Thomas De Gendt (Belgium/Lotto-Soudal)
2) Max Schachmann (Germany/Bora-Hansgrohe) 2:38
3) Grega Bole (Slovenia/Bahrain-Merida) 2:42
18) Michael Woods (Canada/EF Education First) s.t.
161) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Groupama-FDJ) +17:35