Sam Bennett makes strong start to the Volta a Catalunya

Fellow Irishmen Dan Martin, Nicolas Roche and Philip Deignan also finished in main bunch

 Colombian rider Alvaro Hodeg celebrates as he wins the first stage of the Volta a Catalunya in Calella, Barcelona, ahead of Ireland’s Sam Bennett. Photograph: PA

Colombian rider Alvaro Hodeg celebrates as he wins the first stage of the Volta a Catalunya in Calella, Barcelona, ahead of Ireland’s Sam Bennett. Photograph: PA

 

Sam Bennett had a strong start to the Volta a Catalunya on Monday, netting second on the opening stage in Calella. Bennett was aiming for victory but wasn’t able to match the Colombian sprinter Alvaro Hodeg (QuickStep Floors), who last week also won the Handzame Classic.

“What can I say, the team worked really good,” said Bennett. “I want to thank my teammates for the support the whole day. Due to illness I left Paris-Nice and now I am missing some race kilometres.

“I felt good today but I hadn’t the legs to go for the victory. I am satisfied with my second place.”

Fellow Irishmen Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing Team) and Philip Deignan (Team Sky) also finished in the main bunch. Martin was best place of the trio in 19th. He won the race in 2013, was third overall in 2016 and took sixth last year.

The race continues on Tuesday with a lumpy 175.6 kilometre stage from Mataró to Valls. Wednesday’s stage to Valter 2000 is the first of the mountain-top finishes and will be crucial to Martin’s general classification chances. Roche and Deignan will be required to ride for teammates in the event. Bennett’s only other chance for a stage win will come on Tuesday, although a second category climb near the finish could make things too difficult for the sprinters.

Volta a Catalunya

Stage 1, Calella - Calella: 1. Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) 152.3 kilometres in 3 hours 39 mins 31 secs;

2. S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe); 3. J. McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe); 4. M. Mørkøv (Quick-Step Floors); 5. R. Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates); 6. N. Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) all same time.

Other Irish: 19. D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates); 111. N. Roche (BMC Racing Team); 151. P. Deignan (Team Sky) all same time.

General Classification after stage 1: 1. Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) 3 hours 39 mins 21 secs; 2. S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 4 secs; 3. A. Grivko (Astana Pro Team) at 5 secs; 4. J. McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 6 secs; 5. M. Mørkøv (Quick-Step Floors) at 10 secs; 6. R. Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates) same time.

Other Irish: 20. D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates); 111. N. Roche (BMC Racing Team); 151. P. Deignan (Team Sky) all same time.

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