Italian rider Davide Cimolai won the first stage of the Tour of Catalonia on Monday, pipping Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni to the finish line by 00.04 second in a thrilling bunch sprint to claim the leader's jersey.

The finish was so close that Cimolai did not celebrate victory until minutes after crossing the finish line of the 178.9 km race, which started and ended in Calella and consisted of six major climbs.

Italian Kristian Sbaragli of Dimension Data came third.

Tour de France holder Chris Froome made his European racing debut of the season and is one of the favourites to win the general classification along with Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde, although the Briton will be at a disadvantage due to entering the season later than the Spanish duo.

Tuesday's stage is a 41.3 km time trial in Banyoles.

STAGE 1 RESULTS

1. Davide Cimolai (Italy / FDJ) 4:28:21"
2. Nacer Bouhanni (France / Cofidis) ST
3. Kristian Sbaragli (Italy / Dimension Data)
4. Dion Smith (New Zealand / Wanty)
5. Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto)
6. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spain / Movistar)
7. Daryl Impey (South Africa / Orica)
8. Petr Vakoc (Czech Republic / Quick-Step)
9. Phil Bauhaus (Germany / Sunweb)
10. Enrico Gasparotto (Italy / Bahrain)
11. Nick van der Lijke (Netherlands / Roompot)
12. Martijn Tusveld (Netherlands / Roompot)
13. Pieter Serry (Belgium / Quick-Step)
14. Alejandro Valverde (Spain / Movistar)
15. Felix Grossschartner (Austria / CCC)
16. Guillaume Levarlet (France / Wanty)
17. Jordi Simon (Spain / Soul Brasil)
18. Dario Cataldo (Italy / Astana)
19. Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky)
20. Valerio Conti (Italy / UAE Team Emirates)
21. Pierre Latour (France / AG2R)
22. Maximilian Schachmann (Germany / Quick-Step)
23. Cesare Benedetti (Italy / BORA)
24. Ilnur Zakarin (Russia / Katusha)
25. Andrey Amador (Costa Rica / Movistar)
26. Jay McCarthy (Australia / BORA)
27. Daniel Martin (Ireland / Quick-Step)
28. Yukiya Arashiro (Japan / Bahrain)
29. Damien Howson (Australia / Orica)
30. Robert Gesink (Netherlands / LottoNL)

OVERALL STANDINGS

1. Davide Cimolai (Italy / FDJ) 4:28:11"
2. Nacer Bouhanni (France / Cofidis) +4"
3. Kristian Sbaragli (Italy / Dimension Data) +6"
4. Dion Smith (New Zealand / Wanty) +10"
5. Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto)
6. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spain / Movistar)
7. Daryl Impey (South Africa / Orica)
8. Petr Vakoc (Czech Republic / Quick-Step)
9. Phil Bauhaus (Germany / Sunweb)
10. Enrico Gasparotto (Italy / Bahrain)
11. Nick van der Lijke (Netherlands / Roompot)
12. Martijn Tusveld (Netherlands / Roompot)
13. Pieter Serry (Belgium / Quick-Step)
14. Alejandro Valverde (Spain / Movistar)
15. Felix Grossschartner (Austria / CCC)
16. Guillaume Levarlet (France / Wanty)
17. Jordi Simon (Spain / Soul Brasil)
18. Dario Cataldo (Italy / Astana)
19. Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky)
20. Valerio Conti (Italy / UAE Team Emirates)
21. Pierre Latour (France / AG2R)
22. Maximilian Schachmann (Germany / Quick-Step)
23. Cesare Benedetti (Italy / BORA)
24. Ilnur Zakarin (Russia / Katusha)
25. Andrey Amador (Costa Rica / Movistar)
26. Jay McCarthy (Australia / BORA)
27. Daniel Martin (Ireland / Quick-Step)
28. Yukiya Arashiro (Japan / Bahrain)
29. Damien Howson (Australia / Orica)
30. Robert Gesink (Netherlands / LottoNL)