Late attack fails to disrupt sprint with Mezgec second on stage one in Volta a la Comunitat Valencia

Wed 31 Jan 2018

Slovenian national champion Luka Mezgec showed his early season form with second place for Mitchelton-SCOTT on today’s opening stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain.

Coming into the first European race of the 2018 season after a long winter was always going to be like stepping in to the unknown, but with a steady rolling first stage of 191.5kilometres Mitchelton-SCOTT rode well and picked up where they left off in 2017 with Mezgec right in the mix.

After new signing Matteo Trentin sustained a broken rib whilst training in early January it was decided from the off that Mezgec would be the number one in the sprints and the Slovenian Grand Tour stage winner came close in the final behind eventual stage winner Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Decisive Moments:

After early attacks and regrouping marked the opening minutes of stage one, the anticipated breakaway went clear after 22kilometres with four riders gaining five minutes on the bunch.

The gap to the leaders fell significantly after the days only real climb the category two La Banderata at the halfway point. Continuing to drop over the next 70kilometres the four leaders were finally caught with 18kilometres to go.

Sprint Finale:

Mitchelton-SCOTT were positioned well towards the front of the fast moving and compact peloton over the closing kilometres as the race shaped up for the bunch sprint in picturesque Peniscola. As the pace intensified it was LottoNL-Jumbo taking up the charge at the front.

A couple of small crashes disrupted the field with three kilometres to go with Gianni Moscon (Team-Sky) trying to capitalise on the confusion with a late attack. The bunch, however regrouped with the bit between their teeth and passed Moscon with 500metres to go.

Mezgec was solo and well placed when Van Poppel went and launched himself into the sprint, but the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider didn’t quite have enough to get past the Dutchman and crossed the line in second place.

Luka Mezgec – Second place:

“It was a really hectic last 10kilometres, I got some solid support from the team early on and last man was Michael Albasini who put me in a nice, safe position behind LottoNL-Jumbo with three kilometres to go. After that it was actually not too hard to stay behind Danny.”

“My shape going into the sprint was good, but in the actual sprint itself I missed some top end power which will come with more racing. In the end I am happy with the sensations after a long winter and I really enjoyed returning to racing today.”

Sport director Laurenzo Lapage:

“We are really happy with how it played out today. It was a good first stage for the guys to get back into racing, because for all of them here this is the first race back after the winter. There was no pressure on the team and we wanted to see how we were going in the last hour and try to get Luka into the best position possible to contest the sprint.”

“The roads were great for most of the stage, nice and wide and open, but as we got closer towards the finish they got narrower with some road furniture and with the speed of the bunch at that point the final became quite hectic.”

“Luka did fantastically well and showed that he’s come here in great shape and ready to compete. He stayed out of trouble and ran a very close second to Van Poppel and it’s fair to say we are happy with how it went today. Tomorrow will be an interesting stage, five climbs and the last one is steep and we could see a selection forming there.”

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage one results

1. Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) 04:34:13

2. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

3. Jurgen Roelandts (BMC-Racing-Team) ST

General Classification after stage one:

1. Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo)

2. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT)

3. Jurgen Roelandts (BMC-Racing-Team)

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.