Danny van Poppel (Team Sky) won the opening stage of the Vuelta a Burgos. He beat Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing) and Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quickstep) in the sprint finish.
The 158km opening stage from Sasamon to Melgar de Fernamental was mostly flat but made tough by the warm temperatures out on the road. Jacques Janse van Rensburg put Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka into a good position from early on in the stage by jumping into the 7 rider break of the day.
Team Sky and and Etixx-Quickstep took control from the peloton almost immediately after the break formed. This meant Janse van Rensburg and co. would not be able to gain more than a 3-minute lead over the main pack. Still, with our South African powering on up ahead, the rest of our African Team were able to sit in the bunch and conserve energy for the expected sprint finish.
The inevitable catch of the breakaway happened with 15km to go and it was then down to teams preparing their sprint trains for the final. Our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka squad was riding to set up Kristian Sbaragli for the sprint and with 5km to go our train started to make its way to the front of the peloton.
After a strong turn from Nic Dougall, our African Team were at the head of the race with 2km to go. Omar Fraile and Jaco Venter then took over to the kilometer to go banner but the fight for position intensified on the wide road. As the race went under the kite, Nathan Haas surged to the front but a coming together of riders prevented Sbaragli from latching onto his wheel. It was then up to Haas to go for the line and he would end with a 7th place for our African Team.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
Today was a day for the sprinters and for us to work for Kristian. Jacques managed to get into the break so the other teams had to do the chase from the bunch. In the last 4km we came to the front of the bunch. The guys were doing really well but at 1.2km to go 2 guys touched handlebars in front of Kristian and it forced him to brake. After that, he couldn’t do a proper sprint. Nathan then had to perform a sprint to get us a top 10 result.