Volta a Catalunya 2018 – Stage 1 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Volta a Catalunya 2018 – Stage 1 Preview

By David Hunter

Calella – Calella 152km

The race begins with the usual sprint stage in Calella, but this year it’s easier than usual.

With just one categorised climb on the menu, this is a day for the sprinters. The finish has been used on many occasions and one that most riders will know well. Once over the climb, the approach to Calella is very fast. The downhill does give a small chance to attackers and we will see some trying to get away in the final 5km, but it is difficult to stay ahead of the chasing pack, as long as it is organised.

Weather

Should be some sunshine for the bunch, with wind of 20km/h coming from the south. That is relatively strong and provides a small chance of splitting the bunch. The problem would be that it is a cross/headwind for much of the route back to Calella.

Finale

Forget the graphic on the left, the road has a gentle little rise in the final 500m. We have a couple of turns before the final 2km. This is an easy finish and one that allows the sprint teams to dominate.

Contenders

Álvaro Hodeg – fresh from winning the Handzame Classic, the Colombian will be full of confidence. We have seen him being used in varied roles this season and he always seems to empty the tank. He is a talented sprinter and looking at the QuickStep team, he should be given leadership for this stage. They have the men to chase down the breakaway and Mørkøv will be on hand to guide the sprinter in the final kilometres.

Max Walscheid – the German hasn’t really started the season yet. 5th place in the opening stage of Oman, is all he has to show for his efforts. Sunweb are very good at identifying targets for their riders and Walscheid will have had this stage in his head for a while. They have a young squad, but keen to prove they have the quality to win some stages.

Daryl Impey – the South African has enjoyed his start to the season and is the current World Tour leader. His team have a great record in this race and he’ll be hoping to take the win in the opening stage. His top end speed isn’t as quick as some of the pure sprinters, but his experience will help him to challenge for the win.

Sam Bennett – had to abandon Paris-Nice due to illness. The Irishman hasn’t enjoyed his start to 2018, he has been unlucky with illness. His chances in this stage all depend on how he has recovered over the last week. If healthy, he has a big chance of taking the win.

Nacer Bouhanni – wasn’t happy with his non-selection for Milan-Sanremo. He didn’t start stage 6 of Paris-Nice, due to illness, but claimed that a doctor had given him the green light for the big race in Italy. Instead of going with their big star, Cofidis decided to support Christophe Laporte, this didn’t go down well with Bouhanni. He arrives in Catalunya without a sprint train, but if he can channel his anger, he’ll still be the man to beat.

Niccolo Bonifazio – the Italian sprinter has been close on a few occasions this season, but he just doesn’t win enough. In the finale, he can be a very dangerous rider, one that seems to have no problem making dangerous moves. Bahrain have enjoyed a great start to the season and his sprint train are one of the best in this race. If he starts the sprint in a good position, he does have the speed to win.

Prediction Time

This is hard due to the illness that some of these sprinters have had. Given the level of the sprint trains, I’ll go with Niccolo Bonifazio to take a “surprise” win.

*Overall Preview

David Hunter

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1 thought on “Volta a Catalunya 2018 – Stage 1 Preview

  1. Honestly I never expect Hodeg to win this stage but he did it.Congratulations to him and The Quick Step team.
    1-) Hodeg
    2-) Bennet
    3-) McCharty.

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