By Henry Robertshaw published
Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) won the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya with a dominant sprint performance in Calella.
The young Colombian was high on confidence having picked up his maiden pro victory at the Handzame Classic on Friday, and took his second win in as many race days.
Given a perfect lead-out by Quick-Step Floors team-mates Bob Jungels and Michael Mørkøv, Hodeg opened his sprint with 200m to go and was never in danger of being overhauled by his rivals, raising his hands in celebration with daylight separating him from runner-up Sam Bennett and third place Jay McCarthy (both Bora-Hansgrohe).
How it happened
The opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya saw the peloton cover 152km starting and finishing in the coastal town of Calella, with six riders forming the early break: Daniel Turek (Israel Cycling), Antonio Molina (Caja Rural), Tom Bohli (BMC Racing), Jesus Ezquerra (Burgos-BH), Andrey Grivko (Astana), and Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo).
Those six riders worked well together throughout the stage, but were never allowed a lead of more than three minutes, before the chase ramped up behind in the final 80km.
Ezquerra put up the biggest fight as he attacked solo with around 25km to go, but didn't last long as he was brought back by the Astana-led peloton a few kilometres later.
>>> Volta a Catalunya 2018 live TV guide
The third category climb of the Port de Collsacreu was the main obstacle of the day with 18km to go, and saw an attack by Wilmar Paredes to be first over the top to take the king of the mountains jersey before Movistar, working for Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde led onto the descent.
The Spanish team set a fast pace on the descent to deter any attacks and continued to lead as the road flattened out with seven kilometres remaining as the few sprinters in the race started to jostle for position behind.
With three kilometres to go Quick-Step Floors took over at the front in an attempt to set up Alvaro Hodeg and it was Bob Jungels who led under the flamme rouge.
Jungels led to the 500m to go mark where he handed over to Mørkøv, the Dane continuing to keep the pace high to keep Hodeg in the perfect position to take his second win in as many race days and move into the overall lead.
Volta a Catalunya, stage one: Calella to Calella (152km)
1. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors, in 3-39-31
2. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
8. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar
9. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
10. Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy
General classification after stage one
1 Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors, in 3-39-21
2 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 4 secs
3 Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana, at 5 secs
4 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6 secs
5 Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors, at 10 secs
6 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
9 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar
10 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida, all at same time
Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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