Mezgec returns to racing, opening his 2020 season with eighth place on day one of Volta Valencia

Wed 5 Feb 2020

Mitchelton-SCOTT got their 2020 European season underway today with a 180kilometre opening stage in Volta Valencia, which concluded with a bunch sprint, where Slovenian sprinter Luka Mezgec powered to eighth place.

Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) took the stage victory with Mezgec showing promising form, with a fast finish, in what was his first race back in five months after ending his 2019 season early after crashing out of the Vuelta Espana on stage 14.

Steady Start To The Start
The riders took to the start line in Castello and for many, like Mitchelton-SCOTT, it was their first race of the 2020 season. Easing their way into the race, the peloton allowed a small group of four riders breakaway.

Julen Irizar (Fundacion-Orbea) Cedric Beullens (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) Cristian Scaroni (Gazprom-RusVelo) and Pablo Sevilla (Kometa Xstra Cycling Team) set off and maintained a steady rhythm, hovering around three-minutes ahead of the bunch for the majority of the stage and over the only classified climb of the day.

It was Team Jumbo-Visma who led the initial chase, keeping the escapees on a short leash, never allowing them to gain more than a four-minute advantage.

First Fast Finish
As the finish line drew nearer, the leader's time gap finally dropped to under one-minute with 45kilometres remaining and with more teams coming to the fore to help with the steady chase.

The final catch was made with 10kilometres remaining and the sprinter's teams headed to the front, the pace rapidly picked up as the bunch manoeuvred their way through multiple twist and turns through road furniture roundabouts.

Rob Stannard worked to help position Mezgec heading into the fast finish, dropping him off in the final kilometres as the sprint began to unfold. Mezgec surfed the wheels, getting a taste for the hectic final sprints once again, finding his kick and sprinting into eighth place.

Luka Mezgec
"It was good today, the legs were spinning good throughout the day and in the end it was really hectic which was expected for the first race of the season for many. We all need a race or two to get used to the bunch again and it was a bit sketchy on some occasions. 

"The team rode well in the end, I always had a hand from at least one teammate. In the last three kilometres Rob (Stannard) and I lost too many positions at one point, so to come back we had to spent some energy, which cost us to get better results in the end, but I was enjoying that adrenaline kick in the final again."

Dave McPartland - Sport Director
"The signs are good for the first race back, the priority today was getting things right, the process right again for the first race of the season. It was a pretty hectic run in there in the finish and Luka did well to finish where he did.

"The stage wasn't nervous at all, the main part of the day was calm with the break going early and then the sprinters team, Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck-Quickstep, each put a guy on the front and rotated through all day, it was real straight forward. It was only in the final where it was hectic, which was to be expected, everyone is fresh and there was a lot of road furniture in the final five kilometres.

"We knew coming in that Luka was in a good condition so I think if he gets a good run in the coming days he can finish even higher up."

2020 Volta Valencia - Stage 1 Results:
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) 4:07:40
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quickstep) ST
3. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) ST
8. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

2020 Volta Valencia - General Classification after Stage 1:
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) 4:07:40
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quickstep)
3. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates)
8. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT)

Photos courtesy of Getty Images