Nick Schultz could not have said it any better: “this is huge for me,” declared the Australian after his audacious attack helped him claim victory on stage 1 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in Sant Feliu de Guíxols on Monday.

Schultz broke clear approaching the flamme rouge, helped brilliantly by teammate Stevie Williams who slowed the pace behind, and managed to stay clear on the uphill drag to the finish line to claim the biggest victory of his career to date.

Behind, Tour Down Under winner Williams superbly marked the GC favorites, in particular Tadej Pogačar, whose UAE Team Emirates squad went all-in for the Slovenian today, before sprinting to take third place.

Nick Schultz, Volta a Catalunya 2024 stage 1

“I think I was on the finishing line asking ‘what happened?’,” Schultz adds. “This was a huge surprise for me. I think it was pretty clear what my objective was today – my job was to take Stevie down the last descent and through the final corners. I never once thought about winning the stage today, I was only thinking about the team. He was on my wheel just before the final corner and he yelled at me to keep going. He let the gap go. In that moment, I was going to go as hard as I could to provoke somebody to come after me, but I got a pretty gap and knew I had to keep going as hard as possible.

“Ultimately, I never thought it would come to fruition, but I’m really thankful to Stevie for letting that gap go because he could have won that stage in his own right. Maybe that was the beauty of not being the big leader: I had nothing to lose. In my head, I wasn’t racing for the win, I was racing to help Stevie. I think that ultimately meant I could leave it all out there – if I came fifth or 30th today, it wouldn’t have changed anything.”.

This was IPT’s 14th victory of the season to date – one more than the team’s tally for the entire 2023 campaign – and third WorldTour success after Williams’ triumphs in Australia. For Schultz, who won in front of his fiancée, this was the third win of his career and the first since August 2021.

He adds: “There’s such a good atmosphere in the team. We’ve got great personnel, amazing staff, and a great group of riders, and this is just the hard work of everybody paying off. I think it’s clear that things are going so well when someone like me wins the stage. I’m not a guy who wins very often, if at all.

“I’m realistic – I’m not riding GC here at this race. I just had the biggest victory of my career, I’m going to enjoy it. I think the best way to do that will be to do what I love doing and helping out the guys tomorrow.”

Nick Schultz, Volta a Catalunya 2024 stage 1

Williams paid tribute to Schultzie, who was part of the team that supported him en route to winning the Tour Down Under in January.

“I’m really proud of Nick, he’s a selfless helper and a great teammate,” said the Welshman. “I’m really happy and proud to see him take his first WorldTour victory here. It’s a wonderful start to this race for our team.

“We rode great as a team all day. We knew that it was going to be key to get to the top of the final climb in a good position for the descent into the finish, as it was more than likely there were going to be splits. We got onto the coast for the final time, and we were well positioned. I went into the final corner one-two with Nick, and I thought I’d let the wheel go to see what would happen. He got a gap immediately and there was a lull behind. Inevitably, it was always going to go out, because nobody had any teammates to chase. I hoped he would be able to hold on, which he did. Behind, I was also able to open my sprint, and round out the podium.”