Solo break earns De Gendt Tour of Catalonia win

Thomas De Gendt (Gallo Images)
Thomas De Gendt (Gallo Images)

Calella - Belgian Lotto-Soudal rider Thomas de Gendt completed a long range solo break through the mountains to win the Tour of Catalonia's opening stage on Monday ahead of an all star cast of contenders.

In glorious spring sunshine De Gendt finished a 164km route in 4hrs 14mins and 32sec as the only survivor of an early six man breakaway that began after 12km in a race that started and ended in the seaside town of Calella.

The 32-year-old from Flanders leads the overall classification, the points, the mountain and the special breakaway category too.

Germany's Maximilian Schachmann of Bora-Hansgrohe broke from the peloton with 5km or so remaining to finish second a couple of seconds ahead of the onrushing peloton as Grega Bole of Bahrain Merida came third.

With three category one climbs across the forested peaks behind Spain's Costa Brava an elite group had been expected to drop a major part of the peloton, which it did as Spanish outfit Movistar led by world champion Alejandro Valverde and Colombian climber Nairo Quintana set a high tempo late on.

"I was surprised the gap didn't come down," the winner said after the race. 

"I was at the limit of my endurance but when I was getting closer I just had to carry on."

"This is the best race I've had here and it's a joy to race in these circumstances."

It was a quiet day for four time Tour de France champion Chris Froome and his compatriots Simon and Adam Yates, while Australian contender Richie Porte and his Colombian teammate Estaban Chaves all finished in the main group.

Tuesday's second stage is a relatively flat 166km-long race which heads north along the coast from Mataro to Sant Feliu de Guixols and is expected to finish in a bunch sprint. 

Overall standings:

1. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/Lotto) 4hrs 14min 16sec, 2. Maximilian Schachmann (GER/BOR) at 2min 48sec, 3. Grega Bole (SLO/BAH) 2:54, 4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 2:56, 5. Egan Bernal (COL/SKY) 2:57, 6. Michael Matthews (AUS/SUN) 2:58, 7. Mikel Bizkarra (ESP/EUS) same time, 8. Andre Greipel (GER/FST) s.t., 9. Daryl Impey (RSA/MIT) s.t., 10. Jay McCarthy (AUS/BOR) s.t.

Stage 1:

1. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/LOT) 164km in 4hrs 14mins 32sec, 2. Maximilian Schachmann (GER/BOR) at 2min 38sec, 3. Grega Bole (SLO/BAH) 2:41., 4. Michael Matthews (AUS/SUN) s.t., 5. Mikel Aristi (ESP/EUS) s.t., 6. Andre Greipel (GER/FST) s.t., 7. Egan Bernal (COL/SKY) s.t., 8. Daryl Impey (RSA/MIT) s.t., 9. Nick van der Lijke (NED/ROP) s.t., 10. Patrick Bevin (NZL/CCC) s.t.

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