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Paterski wins as breakaway succeeds in Catalunya

A three-man breakaway stays away on the opening day of Volta a Catalunya, threatening the GC hopefuls and stealing the spotlight in Spain

Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) won the first stage of Volta a Catalunya in Spain on Monday, sprinting to victory out of a three-man break. The 28-year-old Pole also claimed the race’s first leader’s jersey.

“One of my biggest dreams has come true — to win a UCI WorldTour race. I am very happy about that,” said Paterski in a team statement. “I felt very well throughout the entire day, except the last 10 kilometers when the cramps began to strike. I felt dehydrated, but it was not only me, because it turned out that other escapees also had to deal with the same problem. In the end I was trying to not push on the pedals too hard and spin as easy as possible. It helped. During the finale I had to forget about the pain and concentrate on the sprint.”

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The stage, which started and finished in Calella, featured a category two, one, and category three climb, in that order.

An early break of three riders included Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal), Paterski, and Pierre Rolland (Europcar). Their gap grew as large as 10 minutes at one point in the 185.2km stage.

“I’ve come four times previously to the Tour of Catalonia and been in a breakaway twice that got to the end, so I thought that today the same thing could happen,” said Paterski. “I didn’t believe I would be able to win, though, as I was a bit tired from yesterday. I rode the Milano-Sanremo and didn’t get to the hotel until after 10 p.m.”

With 50 kilometers remaining, ahead of the final climb, Alt de Collsacreau, the gap held at eight minutes.

As the trio reached 33km to go, the gap was back out to 9:30. Behind, in the peloton, the pace-making was left up to Team Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo, but the peloton’s motivation and organization was not adequate.

“It’s not always up to us to lead the peloton and there are teams with very strong lineups such as Sky,” said Tinkoff-Saxo sport director Steven de Jongh in a press statement. “And it wasn’t until the first category climb, where Sky and Movistar started to pull that the time gap decreased. Then we decided to give them a hand and joined the chase with 25km to go.”

With 22 kilometers left, the gap had fallen to 7:56, but the breakaway seemed to be a real threat to the peloton’s GC hopefuls, especially with Rolland in the move. By 18km to go, the break had lost another minute of lead but was still comfortably out front.

The breakaway rode into Saint Cebria de Vallalta with a 5:30 advantage and 10 kilometers left to race.

As the three leaders entered the final kilometer, the tactical games began and the pace eased. They knew the stage was theirs to win, as the peloton was still well behind.

On a short rise before the finish, De Clerq made his move, and Paterski chased, bringing Rolland back on his wheel.

Rolland countered when De Clercq was caught, but Paterski was ready for the finale. He jumped as Rolland opened up his sprint, and held off the Frenchman all the way to the line. De Clercq had to settle for third.

The peloton reached the finish 2:40 behind, with Lotto-Soudal’s Tosh Van Der Sande claiming the sprint for fourth.

“Now we own the leader jersey so we will try to maintain it as long as possible,” said Paterski. “We have few other options, because I’m also the leader of mountains and points classification, but we will set the strategy with our sporting directors tomorrow, and we will take one day at a time.

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Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.