Chris Froome just missed out on a top-10 finish in a surprise opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya which saw Maciej Paterski seal a breakaway win in Calella.
Froome was well marshalled during the first of seven stages, with Team Sky riding hard to minimise his losses in the final hour of action after the sprinters’ teams had failed to mount of chase earlier in the day.
Paterski (CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice) had forged ahead with Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) 60km into a lumpy 185.2km stage which had looked to favour the fast men.
With no leader’s jersey to defend however, their lead ballooned to over 14 minutes as teams quarrelled over who should adopt pacesetting duties back in the bunch.
The escapees were still nine minutes ahead as they crested the Coll Formic, and that lead only began to fall once Team Sky had grabbed the bull by the horns in the last 50km.
Etixx – Quick-Step, Tinkoff-Saxo and Movistar also lent a hand to keep the race open, but it was the three plucky opportunists who survived to contest an unlikely victory.
De Clercq kicked things off when he attacked in the final kilometre, but Paterski rounded the Belgian on the long drag to the finish and held off a late burst from Rolland for his first win of the season.
Bonus seconds at the line also saw Paterski open up a four-second advantage over Rolland at the top of the standings, with De Clercq four seconds further back in third.
Froome meanwhile, crossed the line in 11th position, two minutes and 40 seconds back in a large group containing all the main general classification contenders. Richie Porte was also there, along with seven of Team Sky's eight-man squad.
"Confusing day out on the road today, accurate time gaps would have been helpful…live & learn #VoltaCatalunya," Froome tweeted after the stage.
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