Despite Team Sky’s best efforts to dominate today’s finish, Alejandro Valverde once again emerged victorious, as the Spanish rider succeeded in powering his way clear on the final summit in Jaén – beating Bauke Mollema and Davide Rebellin by four seconds.
How the Race Unfolded
A breakaway group containing Amets Txurruka, Jaco Venter, Jesus Ezquerra, Stephane Poulhies, Tom Van Asbroeck, Francisco Javier Aramendia, Alexis Guerin, Lennard Hofstede, David Lozano, Nico Sijmens stayed away for most of today’s stage – subsequently building up a three minute gap over the peloton. However, as the group reached the last category 2 climb with 30 kilometers remaining – Guerrin initiated a fierce attack.
The young French rider was quickly joined by Aramendia, but their move didn’t last long – as Guerin got dropped by Aramendia – who in turn was caught by Venter, Van Asbroeck and Lukasz Owsian. In the meantime, under the impetus of team Movistar, the peloton had been slowly chipping away at their advantage. And, by the 10 kilometer mark, they had reduced their lead to a mere 12 seconds.
Jakob Fuglsang was the first rider to attempt to bridge himself to the breakaway group. However, Movistar upped the pace and subsequently reeled him back in – with 9.7 kilometers remaining.
At that point, Team Sky took over the pace setting – hoping to launch one of it’s riders to the front. However, that plan was short lived, as Bradley Wiggins was the first rider to be dropped inside the final 3 kilometers, followed by Vasili Kiryienka, Geraint Thomas and then Ritchie Porte.
As the gradient began to kick upward, Valverde and his lieutenant Jon Izagirre began to take over – leaving a trial of Team Sky riders in their wake – as they upped their pace during the closing meters.
Mollema put in a valiant effort to try and hold-on, however, he was no match for the Spanish climber in his bid for the finish line.
At the conclusion of today’s stage, Richie Porte moved up into second place in the overall GC – 19 seconds behind Valvarde. Luis León Sánchez, who finished fifth in today’s race – moved into third overall at 21 seconds back.
Stage 1 Results
ESP 1 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) 5:08:56 NED 2 MOLLEMA, Bauke (BELKIN) + 4 ITA 3 REBELLIN, Davide (CCC POLSAT POLKOWICE) AUS 4 PORTE, Richie (SKY) ESP 5 SANCHEZ GIL, Luis Leon (CAJA RURAL – SEGUROS RGA) FRA 6 SIMON, Julien (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) + 11 ESP 7 NAVARRO GARCIA, Daniel (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) + 12 ESP 8 PLAZA MOLINA, Ruben (MOVISTAR) + 15 BEL 9 DEGAND, Thomas (WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT) + 16 EST 10 KANGERT, Tanel (ASTANA) + 17
General Classification after Stage 1 ESP 1 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) 5:17:49 AUS 2 PORTE, Richie (SKY) + 19 ESP 3 SANCHEZ GIL, Luis Leon (CAJA RURAL – SEGUROS RGA) + 21 ESP 4 ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, Haimar (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 37 EST 5 KANGERT, Tanel (ASTANA) + 38
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