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Vuelta al País Vasco 2017 Stage 1

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photo credits @ Itzulia 

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) won the opening stage of the 2017 Tour of the Basque Country in Spain, and earned the early race lead after taking the bunch sprint.

Matthews topped an all-Australian one-two-three to take his first victory of the season, finishing ahead of compatriots Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott). Britain’s Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) finished ninth.

Race Highlights

Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) and Igor Anton (Dimension Data), marked the day’s first breakaway group, which got underway from the outset of the stage in Pamplona.

From there, the trio quickly opened up a sizable gap, growing their advantage to four minutes within the first 20 kilometres of racing before the peloton picked up the pace. That brought the gap down to a little under three minutes, and it hovered there or thereabouts for roughly the next 80 kilometres.

The advantage began to fall as the break took on the day’s third and final climb, cresting the ascent with around two minutes and 60 kilometres left.

On the long downhill that followed, the bunch shaved another minute off the gap with Sunweb setting the tempo.

The peloton made the catch around 19 kilometres from the line. The order of teams at the front was changing constantly over the next few kilometres, with LottoNl-Jumbo and Orica-Scott first joining Sunweb and then Movistar taking over at the helm before a flurry of late attacks.

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) tried to go clear with five kilometres to go but was quickly reeled in. Then it was Alaphilippe’s turn to try his luck, taking advantage of a tricky run-in to the finish. The Quick-Step rider opened up a gap of several seconds at first before a puncture sealed his fate.

After the bunch reeled in the Frenchman, a small lead group formed as Valverde put the hammer down out front, but the pack did not allow them much breathing room, with everything brought back together for a sprint in the final kilometre.

Orica led the bunch into the final corner but McCarthy pulled in front rounding the bend. Despite McCarthy’s best efforts, however, Matthews powered past on the finishing straight and triumphed with a comfortable margin, nabbing his first win of the season and the overall lead to start the race.

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Stage 1 Results
AUS 1 MATTHEWS, Michael (SUNWEB) 3:45:07
AUS 2 MCCARTHY, Jay (BORA – HANSGROHE)
AUS 3 GERRANS, Simon (ORICA – SCOTT)
COL 4 RESTREPO VALENCIA, Jhonatan (KATUSHA ALPECIN)
BEL 5 DE BIE, Sean (LOTTO SOUDAL)
ARG 6 RICHEZE, Maximiliano Ariel (QUICK – STEP FLOORS)
COL 7 URAN URAN, Rigoberto (CANNONDALE DRAPAC)
FRA 8 ROUX, Anthony (FDJ)
GBR 9 SWIFT, Ben (UAE Team Emirates)
AUT 10 MÜHLBERGER, Gregor (BORA – HANSGROHE)

General Classification after Stage 1
AUS 1 MATTHEWS, Michael (SUNWEB) 3:45:07
AUS 2 MCCARTHY, Jay (BORA – HANSGROHE)
AUS 3 GERRANS, Simon (ORICA – SCOTT)
COL 4 RESTREPO VALENCIA, Jhonatan (KATUSHA ALPECIN)
BEL 5 DE BIE, Sean (LOTTO SOUDAL)
ARG 6 RICHEZE, Maximiliano Ariel (QUICK – STEP FLOORS)
COL 7 URAN URAN, Rigoberto (CANNONDALE DRAPAC)
FRA 8 ROUX, Anthony (FDJ)
GBR 9 SWIFT, Ben (UAE Team Emirates)
AUT 10 MÜHLBERGER, Gregor (BORA – HANSGROHE)

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