Mezgec wins stage 2 at Volta a Catalunya

Giant-Shimano's Luka Mezgec wins second consecutive stage in Catalunya, extending his overall lead

Luka Mezgec defended his overall lead from the front when he won stage 2 of the Volta a Catalunya Tuesday in Girona, Spain. Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) was fastest in a rain-soaked bunch sprint to close the 168-kilometer leg from MatarĂ³.

Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) was second and Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) was third.

The win netted Mezgec a 10-second time bonus, extending his overall lead ahead of the race’s first day in the mountains.

“I was freezing on the bike on the downhill at the end and was a bit unsure of how the legs would react in the sprint,” said Mezgec. “At 500 meters to go I was not in perfect position, but when I jumped my legs were good.

“It’s great to show that yesterday wasn’t just a one off. Tomorrow will be different though and I will focus on the sprint opportunities later in the week.”

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was among the day’s escapees on the route that included two categorized climbs, as well as two late, unrated ascents in the final 48km. The breakaway dissolved with roughly 25km remaining, leaving the former Tour de France maillot jaune alone at the front.

Voeckler held onto a half-minute advantage inside 10km to go, but the Frenchman’s day at the front was finished soon after he passed under the 5km flag.

Orica led out the sprint, but, for the second day in a row, Mezgec took the victory, flying up the right side of the road uninhibited.

Richie Porte (Sky) abandoned the race due to illness.

“I’m obviously not 100 percent. After my illness at [Tirreno-Adriatico] I went home and just haven’t quite been able to get over it,” he said via the team’s website. “Training is one thing, but when you come to the race, there’s nowhere to hide. Unfortunately, today I had to stop, but I think long-term I’ll be able to go back, get healthy, recover, and re-start my season.”

The Volta a Catalunya continues Wednesday with the 162km third stage, from Banyoles to La Molina. Forecast snow may force officials to alter the route, but they had not made a decision at press time.