Michael Matthews powered up the final uphill drag to win the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Monday afternoon.
The BikeExchange-Jayco rider timed his effort to perfection, outsprinting Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) in the final metres of the stage to Sant Feliu de Guíxolss. Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) came third.
It is the second time that the Australian has won in the Catalan town, after 2019's edition. It was also Matthews' first win since 2020, "it has been a long time", he said post-race.
Following the stage, Colbrelli collapsed and received medical treatment at the finish line, and was then taken to hospital, but was reportedly in a "stable condition".
How it happened
There was an attack right from the gun in Sant Feliu de Guíxols on Monday morning, as the Volta a Catalunya got underway.
The six were caught quickly by the peloton, however, before there was a flurry of further attacks out of the main bunch. It took until 43km in for the first break to stick, however, with Jetse Bol, (Burgos-BH), Marco Brenner (Team DSM) Jonathan Klever Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Carlos Canal and Antonio Jesús Soto (btoh Euskaltel - Euskadi), and Raúl García Pierna (Equipo Kern Pharma) establishing a gap.
The time between the leaders on the road and the peloton grew to over three minutes, however it never looked like they would stay away.
With 88km to go there were echelons in the peloton as crosswinds affected the action, which left Israel-Premier Tech and BikeExchange looking to be taking an advantage, with six and five riders in the front group respectively.
The six in the break were caught with 78km to go. Teams caught out in the crosswinds split pushed on behind, and the main peloton was reassembled with 50km to go.
Caicedo took the opportunity to attack once again, and was followed by Nans Peters (AG2R Citröen), with the two grand tour stage winners looking good for a brief moment before the latter suffered a puncture.
The Ecuadorean was joined by Pieter Serry (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Théo Delacroix (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Jonas Hvideberg (Team DSM), and Alex Molenaar (Burgos-BH). That six held a lead of about a minute heading into the final 35km.
On the descent from the Alt de Romanyà there was a small crash which seemed to have affected Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), with his team working hard to bring him back.
The escapees were finally caught with 7.7km to go, when the pace really stepped up in the peloton ahead of the last few kilometres.
On the final drag to the finish line, Carapaz was one of the first to attack, while behind Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) waited for their moment.
Matthews finally sprinted, with Colbrelli following and taking the other side of the road, but the former held out to claim victory in Sant Feliu de Guíxols.
Volta a Catalunya 2022, stage one: Sant Feliu de Guíxols to Sant Feliu de Guíxols (171.2km)
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco, in 3-47-11
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious
3. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4. Sergio Higuita (Col) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl
6. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
7. Simon Clarke (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech
8. Eduard Prades (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Hugo Hoffstetter (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic
10. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ, all at same time
General classification after stage one
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco, in 3-47-01
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious, at 4s
3. Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Nor) Team DSM, same time
4. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 6s
5. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, at 10s
6. Sergio Higuita (Col) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
8. Simon Clarke (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech
9. Eduard Prades (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Hugo Hoffstetter (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic, all at same time
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