(Road Bike Action & AFP; Photo: Bettini)
Poland’s Maciej Paterski won the first stage of the Tour of Catalonia on Monday as a three-man breakaway left the peloton nearly three minutes behind. Paterski edged out France’s Pierre Rolland and Belgian Bart de Clerq to claim the 185.2 kilometer stage around Calella in a time of 4hr 33min 31sec.
Former Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Alberto Contador were among the chasing pack that finished 2min 40sec behind the leaders, however Froome squeezed out a bonus one second advantage over Contador in an intermediate sprint. Paterski’s feat is all the more impressive as the CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice rider finished 22nd in the marathon 293km Milan-San Remo classic just 24 hours previously.
“I’ve come four times previously to the Tour of Catalonia and been in a breakaway twice that got to the end, so I thought that today the same thing could happen,” said Paterski. “I didn’t believe I would be able to win, though, as I was a bit tired from yesterday. I rode the Milan-San Remo and didn’t get to the hotel until after 10pm.”
The trio didn’t manage to form a breakaway until 60km into the stage, but with no one in the peloton willing to take on the brunt of the workload, they quickly built up an unassailable advantage of over 13 minutes. Froome’s Team Sky then began to push the pace in the chasing pack and managed to at least minimise the damage which could give Rolland in particular, who finished fourth in last year’s Giro d’Italia, a shot at winning the general classification come Sunday’s final stage in Barcelona. Up front it was De Clerq who made the first break for the line, but he was quickly caught and Paterski had just too much for Rolland in the final sprint. The race continues on Tuesday’s 191.8km second stage from Mataro to Olot.
1. Luka Mezgec (SLO/Giant-Shimano) 4hr 09min 13sec
2. Leigh Howard (AUS) same time
3. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) s.t.
4. Paul Martens (GER) s.t.
5. Tosh van der Sande (BEL) s.t.
6. Daniele Ratto (ITA) s.t.
7. Marcus Burghardt (GER) s.t.
8. Roberto Ferrari (ITA) s.t.
9. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) s.t.
10. Kevin Reza (FRA) s.t.