Primoz Roglič takes yet another win, this time at Volta a Catalunya stage one
Slovenian makes it four wins this year already, outsprinting the rest of the field with a furious Remco Evenepoel second
Remco Evenepoel banged away at his bars in fury as Primoz Roglič outgunned him in Monday's long, uphill sprint in the first day of Spain's Volta a Catalunya.
That's four wins out of eight days of racing this season for the Jumbo-Visma rider already, not to mention the GC, mountains and points jersey classifications at Tirreno-Adriatico on top of that.
Ide Schelling of Bora-Hansgrohe came in third, with Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) sixth.
Speaking after the stage, Roglič said: "It's great eh? You always wish the best, but then you need to do it."
Asked whether he wants to carry on and go for the GC he said: "For sure. But this is day one, there are six super hard days to come, we'll see how we go day by day."
After the dust had settled, world champion Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step) managed to find a philosophical take on the day, saying he felt in promising condition for the week ahead.
"I had to come from too far [back], though after the race it's always easy to find some excuses," he said. "It was tough in the beginning, all the hard work and training, I could feel it in the legs, but when we really started to push, that was when I started to feel better. Good signs for the upcoming week, but of course it's a pity to come second today."
Today's stage was the first of seven stages around the north-east Spanish region, culminating with a final day that starts and finishes in Barcelona. Day one was a 164.6km outing starting and finishing on the coast at Sant Feliu de Guíxols. During a circuitous inland route they would tackle the Alt de Sant Pellaia, Alt des Angels, Alt de la Ganga and the Alt de Romanyà. All spread evenly throughout the day, the riders crested the final big climb of the Romanyà at 26km from the tough and technical finish, which was widely predicted to see a group of punchy riders duke it out.
An early break of five riders prised itself clear after just seven kilometres of racing, which included young Scot Oscar Onley of Team DSM, as well as Rune Herregodts (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Pau Miquel (Equipo Kern Pharma), Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) and Alessandro De Marchi (Jayco-AlUla).
Onley won a stage of the Giro della Valle d'Aostea last year and the year before that took bronze in the U23 National Championship time trial, but is still looking for a first WorldTour win. While the break managed to survive out front for most of the day, the big teams behind were controlling the break carefully and this didn't look like the day he would bag that first win.
Indeed, as the riders went through the finish line for the first time and commenced a tough final 35-kilometre loop, the gap began to reduce, from around 1.20, and with 10km left they were in sight.
The sight of big teams such as Ineos Grenadiers and Soudal-Quick Step amassing on the front was an indicator of serious intent and the break was finally caught with 6km to ride.
The last five kilometres was marred by a high-speed crash, apparently the result of a touch of wheels. The favourites managed to avoid it however, and ploughed on to the finish.
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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields.
Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.
A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.
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