The first stage of the Ruta Del Sol saw a repeat winner in Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). After taking a convincing victory in the prologue yesterday, Valverde managed to get the better of Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat) in the uphill sprint to the line.
The days racing was animated by an 11 man break away that went clear inside of the first 10km. Included in that lead group was Jaco Venter from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. Venter rode strongly at the head of the race and was one of the final four escapees to be caught with 8km to go.
Over the 186km course, the break was allowed to enjoy a maximum advantage of just over 6 minutes on the Movistar lead peloton. It was around the hallway stage in the race that the chase began in earnest from the peloton. The break could feel the pressure as they soon began to split, leaving just the four riders out front with 35km to go.
Venter reflected on the days racing, “I was really happy to get in the break today and be part of the action. It was a hard 180km away in the front but I felt good. Maybe next time I can get a bit closer to finish line.”
Once the break was caught it was a straight drag race between Sky and Movistar up the final climb. Sergio Pardilla (MTN) was well placed on the wheel of Richie Porte (SKY) with 2km to go but the Spaniard couldn’t quite match the front runners on today’s stage and finished in 26th place, 36 seconds down on Valverde.
Stage 2 will see the riders take on the queen stage of the Ruta Del Sol tomorrow, with the 197km stage finishing on top of the category 1 Sierra de Cabra climb.
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (Spain) – (February 19 – 23/UCI 2.1)
Sergio Pardilla (ESP)
Linus Gerdemann (GER)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI)
Jaco Venter (RSA)
Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)
Andreas Stauff (GER)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Staff: Manel Lacambra (Sports Director), Bastian Buffel (Soigneur), Nico Beyens (Soigneur), Daniella Nieri (Mechanic), Jim Bryan (Mechanic), Stevie Christaens (Mechanic)