Michael Matthews rules again in Sant Feliu de Guíxols
March 21 st 2022 - 19:43
(Sant Feliu de Guíxols, 21-03-2022) - Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) was the winner of the first stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2022, a 171.2 kilometre route that started and finished in Sant Feliu de Guíxols. In this way, the Australian cyclist becomes the first leader of the 101st edition of the Catalan race in a very well-known stage in his career.
The Volta a Catalunya kicked off its 2022 edition with Sant Feliu de Guíxols as the starting location, in a stage with three mountain passes that promised a very open stage. The day began with light rain and a nervous start that meant that the breakaway did not consolidate until the first climb of the day, the Alt de Santa Pellaia (3rd category) at kilometre 25.8 of the stage, crowned in solitary by the Dutch rider resident in Olot, Alex Molenaar (Burgos-BH).
Subsequently, a first breakaway formed by Carlos Canal and Antonio Jesús Soto (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Raúl García Pierna (Team Kern Pharma), Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH), Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-Easypost) and Marco Brenner (Team DSM) consolidated.
The group took about two minutes, but the strong wind of the Empordà has accelerated the pace of the peloton, which has come to cut forming a group of 25 riders. Several important teams such as Movistar Team, Arkéa-Samsic or UAE Team Emirates collaborated in the chase, until shortly after passing the Alt de la Ganga (3rd category) the breakaway was neutralised.
Caicedo (EF Education-Easypost), finally winner of the prize for the most combative cyclist of the day, insisted at the front of the race and formed a new breakaway group thanks to which the Norwegian Jonas Iversy Hvideberg (Team DSM) was able to finish the stage as leader of the mountain classification after first topping the Alt de Romanyà (3rd. Category), just 23.3 kilometres from the finish line, just as he did at the intermediate sprints of Sant Feliu de Guíxols and Calonge and Calonge i Sant Antoni.
Nothing could prevent a powerful uphill sprint finish in the streets of Sant Feliu de Guíxols, not even an acceleration by Olympic champion Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) in the last kilometre. At the same finish that saw him win on his last visit to Sant Feliu in 2019, Michael Matthews made his power count and raised his arms in front of European champion Sonny Colbrelli (Baréin-Victorious) and Frenchman Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ). Colbrelli had the most tense moment of the day when he fell unconscious after crossing the finish line. The Italian was attended to by medical assistance and regained stability before being transferred to the Hospital Universitari de Girona for further tests.
This Tuesday, the Volta a Catalunya will continue with a second stage of great novelties. It will be a day of 202.4 kilometres between L'Escala, an unprecedented venue in the stages of the Volta, and Perpinyà, which returns to the route of the Catalan race 67 years after its last presence, in 1955. The fast men may have another chance to fight for victory, with Michael Matthews defending his lead.