Nick Schultz wins stage 1 of the Volta a Catalunya.

Schultz steals a march – and holds off Pogačar – for his first WorldTour win in Catalunya

A chasing Tadej Pogačar 'was like a bullet getting shot out of the peloton.'

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 18.03.2024 More from Dane +

Monday’s opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya appeared set to come down to a reduced sprint with some overall favorites in the mix in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Spain, but 29-year-old Australian Nick Schultz had other ideas. The Israel-Premier Tech rider found himself at the head of the peloton as it powered through the last few corners of the stage in the final kilometer, and he decided to take a flyer off the front.

The next few hundred meters felt like an “eternity,” and then Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) jumped from the chasing pack and closed down almost all of the gap in a matter of moments – but Schultz narrowly held on to take the stage 1 win.

“I had once last glance back and still saw that I had a gap. I think it was Pogačar coming,” Schultz said afterward. “He was like a bullet getting shot out of the peloton and I still didn’t believe it at that point, and even at the finish line. This is huge for me and huge for the team. Stevie [Williams] was also third and we also have Mike [Woods] here on GC so it’s just an amazing way to start the week.”

The surprise victory was the result of Schultz being fully alert when an opportunity presented itself, and taking full advantage of that opportunity by gambling on his own chances.

“I thought I was essentially keeping the pace high to provoke an attack to come earlier but then I saw 500 meters to go and had a look around,” he said. “At that point already the legs were screaming. It’s such a long finish there. The last 500 meters felt like an eternity.”

With one of cycling’s biggest champions breathing down his neck, Schultz went all-in and was rewarded for his audacity with his first ever WorldTour win after more than seven seasons as a pro racing in either the first or second division.

Schultz now leads the race ahead of Pogačar and his teammate Williams – at least until Tuesday’s stage climbs high into the Pyrenees to finish at the Vallter 2000 ski station.

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