Volta a Catalunya: stage one - report

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Volta a Catalunya: stage one – report

Sir Bradley Wiggins has shown his hand early in the 2013 Volta a Catalunya.

The Londoner, who last year racked up a series of victories in prestigious week-long stage races on his way to becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France, today launched an unexpected attack that drew a response from all the main contenders on the final descent into Calella.

Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won the 159.3km stage, which led the riders up a third category climb just 40km from the start, and over the first category Alt del Montseny.

Gianni Meersman celebrates victory on the opening stage of the 2013 Volta a Catalunya. ©OPQS/Tim De Waele

Meersman said he had targeted success in Catalunya after being forced to withdraw from Paris-Nice a fortnight ago.

The first lap of today’s circuit had given him an insight into the technical nature of the descent to the finish line, he added, convincing him of the need to arrive at the formation of the sprint in last position.

“I wanted no one to surprise me. So, I launched the sprint very, very early — several hundred meters from the finish. After that, I didn’t think of anything but pulling and trying to do my best,” he said.

Meersman was the first home of a significant break of 13 riders. Valerio Agnoli (Astana) was second, while Movistar’s team leader, Alejandro Valverde, finished third. Ireland’s Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was fourth.

More significantly, however, Wiggins was sixth, ahead of Blanco Pro Cycling’s Robert Gesink, Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez, a stage winner in the recent Tirreno-Adriatico, and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), officially the winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia.

Wiggins’ attack, and the sprint that followed, was the final action in a stage that had begun with an escape after just 15km by Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Cristiano Salerno (Cannondale).

The duo was finally hauled back with 25km to go. Team Sky lined up at the head of the peloton in an increasingly familiar formation. British neo pro, Josh Edmondson, was the first to take a turn on the front.

When Wiggins signaled his intent, he was joined by team-mates, Dario Cataldo, who performed a sterling job as Chris Froome’s chief lieutenant at Tirreno-Adriatico, and by new signing, David Lopez.

The Londoner’s unexpected assault has made for an intriguing start to a grueling race that will be conducted principally on brutal inclines.

Tomorrow’s second stage, however, a 160.7km route from Girona to Banyoles, an undulating parcours ahead of two days of brutal climbing, is likely to be contested by riders from outside of today’s top 10.

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Volta a Catalunya – stage one – result

1) Gianni Meersman (BEL)  Omega Pharma-QuickStep + 3.55.56
2) Valerio Agnoli (ITA) – Astana – ST
3) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar
4) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Garmin-Sharp
5) Danilo Wyss (SWI) – BMC Racing Team
6) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky
7) Robert Gesink (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling
8) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha
9) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
10) David Lopez Garcia (SPA) – Team Sky

General classification

1) Gianni Meersman (BEL)  Omega Pharma-QuickStep + 3.55.46
2) Valerio Agnoli (ITA) – Astana – +4”
3) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar +6”
4) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Garmin-Sharp +10”
5) Danilo Wyss (SWI) – BMC Racing Team
6) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky
7) Robert Gesink (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling
8) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha
9) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
10) David Lopez Garcia (SPA) – Team Sky

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