Volta a Catalunya 2016 – Stage 1 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Volta a Catalunya 2016 – Stage 1 Preview

By David Hunter

Calella – Calella 175.8km


The race begins with a tough day in the saddle, no gentle start to this race.


With 5 categorised climbs in a period of 80km, the sprinters will not like what they see.

The hardest climb is Coll Formic, 9.3km at 5%, with a maximum of 9%. There is still 45km remaining, but it should be too tough for quite a few riders. Once the riders descend the mountain, they tackle Alt del Montseny. It is 2.7km at 7%, with a maximum of 9%. There is a small valley in-between the last two climbs, that will discourage any serious attacks. The final climb is 3.3km at 4.7%, with a maximum of 6%. The climb crests with 18.2km to go, allowing plenty of time to organise the sprint.

Time to talk fast men.

Ben Swift – developing into one hell of a climber. He can still sprint a little too, by seems to favour 2nd position! He has finished there on 4 occasions already this season. The team is focused on the GC, but a rider like Geraint Thomas is capable of a good lead-out. Did very well in MSR, but will be frustrated that he couldn’t win.

Gianni Meersman – has to deliver if he wants a new deal. Meersman will be able to count upon Vakoc and Alaphilippe, two very strong riders. When he won back to back stages here in 2013, he looked like the next star of cycling. Shame it’s not really worked out for him.

Simon Gerrans – the Aussie doesn’t have much recent racing in his legs. Since the Cadel race, he started in GP Industria & Artigianato, he didn’t finish that race due to the weather. Despite this, he’ll be in good condition, with Amstel just under a month away. Has his trusted lead-out man, Daryl Impey, so success is guaranteed! Orica have a tremendous record in this race.

Nikias Arndt – his early season has been disrupted by injury, but he’s starting to get back to form. Was competitive in Tirreno, a good sign for this race. No matter who rides for Giant, they know how to organise a sprint. Will rely upon Frohlinger, Ludvigsson and Lunke.

Lorrenzo Manzin – at 21 years of age, he’s just a youngster. The Frenchman is fast, but needs to develop a bit more before challenging in a World Tour race.

Jonas Van Genechten – The IAM rider is something of an enigma. Certainly has plenty of speed but rarely shows it.

Carlos Barbero – another rider that has been unlucky with injuries in 2016. Likes a sprint after a tough day in the saddle, he can count upon Prades to help in the sprints.

Nacer Bouhanni – has started the season with a bang, but has done a lot of kilometres in tough conditions. He will hope for a couple of stage wins, but might find this stage too much after MSR. He was another left frustrated on Saturday, as a mechanical stopped him from sprinting the way he would have liked.

Kiel Reijnen – new American rider with Trek. After a few starts in 2016, he should get his first opportunity in the sprints. Will have the experience of Eugenio Alafaci to help guide him into position.

Davide Cimolai – only likes to sprint after a tough day on the road. This is it! Last win was last year in PN, when he experienced a purple patch. Has been quiet since, but he has the speed needed.

Tosh Van Der Sande – won the bunch sprint here for 4th back in 2015. This stage is almost the exact same as last year, which will encourage the man from Lotto. Looks like he’ll have to look after himself in the sprints.


The last 3km isn’t easy, with a little bit of climbing. The graphic makes it looks like a mountain, it’s not that hard! However, it will test any of the sprinters that have survived the earlier climbs.


The last 2km is very straightforward. The long straight can actually make it harder to organise a lead-out. Teams will hit the front too early, a little bit of experience will go a long way.

The stage looks like a Gerrans day. Orica will want to set a fast pace, as they need to eliminate Bouhanni, he is the danger. Gerrans will back himself to beat all the other sprinters, especially with Impey by his side. These two have an incredible understanding, just remember back to the TDU.

Ben Swift looks destined for another spot on the podium. He will hope that the Orica boys get the last kilometre slightly wrong, letting him come past Gerrans for the win. If Gerro doesn’t survive the climbs, due to lack of racing, Swift could well be set to take his first win of 2016.

Prediction Time

There looks like too much climbing for Bouhanni. Looking back to 2015, most of the sprinters didn’t make the finish. The peloton did make a mess of catching the break, something that is always a worry in a stage like this. With no race leader, teams will look at each other to see who will organise the chase. Team Sky might step forward, but they would like some help from the other teams. Orica have a big interest in this stage, so they should also be keen to work. Looking at the rest, only Cofidis could be expected to help, but only if Bouhanni is feeling good.

The profile and the finish look great for Simon Gerrans. Another good day for Orica in Catalunya.

David Hunter

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