Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quickstep) won stage 1 of the Tour of Slovakia, taking the sprint ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in 2nd and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Team Qhubeka NextHash) 3rd.
After last nights short 1,6km prologue, today was the opening road stage of the Tour of Slovakia. The undulating 158km route saw most of the hills placed in the first half of the stage, meaning the flat run toward the finish in Kosice made it a good day for the sprinters.
Team Qhubeka NextHash were active from the start of the stage though, as Dylan Sunderland infiltrated the early breakaway group. Sunderland was joined by 7 other riders in the move. They built a lead of just over 3-minutes before the sprint teams began controlling the gap.
The break would eventually fracture coming closer to the finish and Sunderland was clear with just two other riders in the end, before they were caught with just 5km to go.
In the leadout, Team Qhubeka NextHash worked well to position our fast men at the front of affairs with just 2km remaining. Our two continental team riders, Antonio Puppio and Luca Coati did a great job in the frantic finale together with our experienced South African, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg.
In the final kick, Hodeg benefited from a very strong leadout from teammate Michael Morkov. Sagan followed him home for 2nd while Janse van Rensburg made a strong kick down the right side of the road to claim 3rd. Coati also managed to hang on for a decent result as he crossed the line 7th.
With a couple of bonus seconds gained by placing 3rd, Janse van Rensburg climbed the general classification rankings to sit in 5th place overall.
I am quite happy with the podium today. I felt I had super legs all day so I felt really good and confident coming into the sprint. It was quite up and down all day. Bora tried to make it hard on the final climb and reduce the group. I think it got rid of about half the bunch but we had all our guys in front and also Dylan in the break, which was good for us. The guys did a perfect job, everybody really committed and helped me. It was almost textbook work from the team, which I am very happy about so thanks to them.
I think in the last corner only, I was a bit boxed in by Sagan which cost me the position of Hodeg’s wheel. So I had to come from a little way back and try to pass them before the line, but just ran out of space. I am happy but still believe there could’ve been more, so that makes me look forward to the next days.Reinardt Janse van Rensburg