Danielle Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the opening stage of the Ruta del Sol from a mass sprint. Bert Van Lerberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen) was 2nd and Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) claimed the 3rd position on the line.
The 162km stage that finished in Sevilla started with some rolling undulations but the flat to downhill final 40km certainly lent itself to a sprint finish finale. That was the thought pattern for a number of the teams as only 4 riders chanced their arm in the main break of the day. The attacking quartet were allowed a 7-minute advantage before Movistar, Tinkoff and Southeast put some men forward.
While the bunch gallop was expected, the 4 leaders put up a really good fight in trying to stay away. With 10km to go, the gap was still 1’10” and they seemed to be poised to cause an upset. However, a few moments of hesitation cost them dearly as the peloton brought them back with 2km to go.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were looking to Kristian Sbaragli for the sprint finish, trying to position the Italian near the business end of the peloton. Tinkoff were the team in control though and having 4 riders still on the front with a km to go, meant their sprinter Bennati started the final kick in prime spot. He held pace well to take the opening stage victory and also the first leaders jersey of the Ruta del Sol. The narrow finish meant if you weren’t in prime position, then you weren’t anywhere really. Sbaragli would opt for keeping safe and out of trouble by rolling home in 16th, with more opportunities to come later in the week.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
The most difficult part of today’s 162km was the first 75km. A break of 4 got away and they almost touched an 8-minute gap. 3 teams had to chase and the break still made it to the last 2km. We tried in the final for Kristian but it wasn’t our best day. Tomorrow will be an interesting stage with a few short difficult climbs before the finish.