Slovenian cyclist Mezgec leads Volta Catalunya

CALELLA, Spain (AP) Slovenian cyclist Luka Mezgec won a sprint finish Monday to take the leader’s jersey after the first stage of the 94th edition of the Volta a Catalunya, with the pre-race favorites grouped together close behind.

Mezgec, of Giant-Shimano, edged Leigh Howard of Orica and Julian Alaphilippe of Omega Pharma to win the 169.7-kilometer (105.4-mile) opening leg in a time of 4 hours, 9 minutes, 13 seconds.

Tour de France champion Christopher Froome of Sky was 10 seconds behind in 48th, while Alberto Contador of Saxo Bank also navigated the three mountain climbs without difficulty to sit 27th in the same time as Froome.

The race continues up the Catalan coast with Tuesday’s 168-kilometer (105-mile) leg from Mataro to Girona.