The first stage of the Tour de Korea saw Grega Bole (Vini Fantini Nippo) take the stage win as well as the races first yellow jersey. Neil van der Ploeg (Avanti Racing Team) was 2nd in the bunch sprint and Keon Woo Park (RTS-Satic Racing Team) rounded out the podium in 3rd. Kristian Sbaragli was in the mix as per usual, eventually crossing the line 5th after coming from some way back.
The 137km stage from Hanam to Chungju would be one of constant attacks with no real gaps ever being formed. The continuous aggressive racing style would eventually take its toll on the peloton though and a massive split saw the peloton cut in half. 53 riders would go clear leaving the remaining 65 riders with an extremely difficult chase on their hands. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung found themselves in a very strong position as all 6 of its riders made the front split.
With a clear advantage in numbers Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung took responsibility of the leading group and drove the pace all the way to line. Despite the chasing pelotons best efforts the pressure applied by the African Pro Continental was just too much. The proverbial elastic snapped and a time gap of over 9 minutes would separate the two groups at the finish line.
Directeur Sportif – Kevin Campbell
There were a lot of attacks and counter attacks with a big split in the peloton eventually being forced. We had all 6 of our riders in the front group. We did not finish the stage off in the sprint as well as we probably should have but we are well positioned for the rest of the tour now.
Rider – Kristian Sbaragli
The stage was really chaotic today and nobody could get control of the situation. In the last 25km we were more or less 60 guys in front and our team decided to do all the work in the front of the bunch so that it would finish in a sprint. The team did such a great job but unfortunately i wasn’t in the best position with 300m to go. I didn’t have bad legs today so that is encouraging at least. We now look forward to the next few stages where we will fight for the victory.
Remaining Stage Profiles Overview
Stage 2 (9 June)
Stage 3 (10 June)
Stage 4 (11 June)
Stage 5 (12 June)
Stage 6 (13 June)
Stage 7 (14 June)
Stage 8 (15 June)