Cycling

Mezgec claims Stage 1 win

Luka Mezgec (AFP)
Luka Mezgec (AFP)

Barcelona - Slovenia's Luka Mezgec of the Giant-Shimano team sprinted to victory in Monday's first stage of the Tour of Catalonia.

Mezgec led the peloton home in the 169.7km stage in 4hr 9min 13sec, finishing ahead of Australian Leigh Howard (Orica-Green) and French rider Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Tour de France winner Chris Froome and Spanish rival Alberto Contador both finished in the lead pack on the first of the seven-stage Tour.

The second and third-placed finishers in last year's Tour de France, Nairo Quintana of Movistar and Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha, were also in that peloton.

Froome's lieutenant in Team Sky, Australian Richie Porte, was not however, finishing 2min 58sec down.

The stage got off to a quick start, Belgian Boris Vallee (Lotto) and Frenchman Romain Lemarchand (Cofidis) breaking away at the 13km mark right through to the final kilometres, having built up a lead of eight minutes on the chasing peloton at one stage.

In the stage's last climb, the category three Collsacreu, the two riders were joined by Spaniard Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), and then reeled in by the Sky team.

The run-in to the finish line featured several attempted breakaways, all smothered by the peloton, until Mezgec successfully broke in Calella and held his nerve through the line.

Tuesday's second stage sees the riders tackle a 168km course between Mataro and Gerona.

Results of the 169.7km first stage of the Tour of Catalonia on Monday:
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.

Selected:
25. Alberto Contador (ESP) s.t., 47. Chris Froome (GBR) s.t., 173. Richie Porte (AUS) 2:58

Overall standings:
1. Luka Mezgec (SLO/Giant-Shimano) 4:09:03
2. Leigh Howard (AUS) at 0:04sec
3. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) 0:06
4. Boris Vallee (BEL) 0:08
5. Cedric Pineau (FRA) 0:09
6. Paul Martens (GER) 0:10
7. Tosh van der Sande (BEL) s.t.
8. Daniele Ratto (ITA) s.t.
9. Marcus Burghardt (GER) s.t.
10. Roberto Ferrari (ITA) s.t.

Selected:
27. Alberto Contador (ESP) s.t., 48. Chris Froome (GBR) s.t., 173. Richie Porte (AUS) 3:08

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