Impey sprints to third place on stage one of Volta Catalunya

Mon 21 Mar 2016

South African time trial champion Daryl Impey sprinted to third place today on stage one of Volta Catalunya.

Santos Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans provided Impey with a strong lead out in the final meters of the WorldTour race into Calella. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) proved too quick and took the race victory ahead of Impey who held on for third place.

Sport director Neil Stephens explained the team's plan to give Impey an opportunity to sprint today, after consistently being a hardworking team player.

"Daryl is going really well at the moment," Stephens explained. "He's at the finish of a really good block of racing. He is always leading out Matthews, he's leading out Gerrans, he's working for the boys in the hills and it was time for some pay back."

"It's not as if we sacrificed anything on a sporting level, Gerrans is on his way up and Daryl is already up there at the moment so why not give it a go with him. 

"This morning in the meeting everyone was really willing to go for Daryl, he's a giver all the time so it's nice for the team to be able to give him an opportunity.

"He gave it a good shot, perhaps we hit out a touch too early with Gerrans but that's just the way it is. We were going for the win today, we tried and we didn't quite pull it off but all in all the boys did a really good job."

ORICA-GreenEDGE kept themselves out of trouble over the climbs during today's stage until the race eventually came together for a bunch sprint. Tomorrow the riders face more climbing but again the race has the potential to end in a bunch sprint.

"Today was pretty lumpy," continued Stephens. "Tomorrow it's a little less, but still a tough stage so we will see how it pans out with Gerrans and Impey for the final."

How it happened:

The week-long Volta Catalunya began in the costal town of Calella and the riders were welcomed with a hilly stage to begin the proceedings. Within the first five kilometres three riders - Luis Mas (Caja Rural), Boris Dron (Wanty) and Cameron Meyer (Dimensions-Data) - formed a breakaway, working well together throughout the first part of the race to establish their lead.

After 50km the trio had opened up an advantage of six minutes as they approached the the main climbs of the day. Team Sky and Team Cofidis headed to the front of the peloton and began to lead the chase. 

The determined breakaway riders continued to work together to stay out front throughout the hilly middle section of the race but over the first category climb of the day, Coll Formic, their advantage dropped down to just over one minute and it wasn't long until the trio were eventually caught on the twisty decent.

After starting the stage with blue skies and sunshine in the coastal town, the rain came down as the race headed over the high mountainous terrain. Seven riders jumped off the front of the peloton with one categorised climb remaining but only held a small advantage as the peloton looked set on having a bunch finish.

Nicholas Roche (Team Sky) tried a late attack on a short drag with just three kilometres remaining, he opened up a gap but once the peloton organised themselves with their sprint trains he was just as quickly swallowed up with less than two kilometres to go. 

Gerrans placed himself in a good position in the closing stages with Impey tight on the wheel as the sprint opened up. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) took the stage honours with Impey holding on for a respectable third place.

Tomorrow the stage covers 178.7km from Mataró to Olot.

Volta Catalunya stage one results:

1. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) 4:28:51
2. Ben Swift (Team Sky) ST
3. Daryl Impey (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST

General Classification after stage one:

1. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) 4:28:41
2. Ben Swift (Team Sky) +0:04
3. Daryl Impey (ORICA-GreenEDGE) +0:06