Ruben Zepuntke claimed stage 1 of this year’s Tour of Alberta, after out sprinting a small lead group of riders in what turned out to be a photo finish.
Cold temperatures did not prevent a group of 14 riders from making their way clear of the peloton during the first of six laps around Lethbridge.
However, as the race entered into the second lap, all but Matthew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge), Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear Development), and Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bissell Development Team), were reeled back in by the chase.
With four laps remaining, the trio’s advantage had increased to a substantial 4:40 over the peloton.
As the race approached the final lap, Van Hooydonck was dropped by his breakaway companions.
With Garmin-Sharp leading the chase, the gap of the remaining escapees was cut in half – during the final 20 kilometers. And, as the race reached the 15 kilometer mark, their gap had fallen to just 1:20. A further 7 kilometers later, and the gap was reduced to a mere 20 seconds. One kilometer later – the escapees were caught.
From there, a group 16 riders managed to ride clear, as the race tackled the final steep climb up Stafford Hill Drive.
Daniel Eaton (Bissell Development Team) led the peloton into the final kilometer.
However, it was Zepuntke who emerged victorious in the sprint finale.
Meanwhile, Garmin-Sharp’s Ramunas Navardauskas finished second, with Ryan Anderson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) in third.
Stage 1 Results GER 1 ZEPUNTKE, Ruben (BISSELL DEVELOPMENT TEAM) 3:18:03 LTU 2 NAVARDAUSKAS, Ramunas (GARMIN SHARP) CAN 3 ANDERSON, Ryan (OPTUM P/B KELLY BENEFIT STRATEGIES) NZL 4 SMITH, Dion (HINCAPIE SPORTSWEAR DEVELOPMENT) USA 5 KING, Benjamin (GARMIN SHARP) USA 6 SUMMERHILL, Daniel (UNITEDHEALTHCARE) USA 7 MAGNER, Tyler (HINCAPIE SPORTSWEAR DEVELOPMENT) GER 8 WEGMANN, Fabian (GARMIN SHARP) NZL 9 ORAM, James (BISSELL DEVELOPMENT TEAM) BEL 10 VANMARCKE, Sep (BELKIN)
General Classification after Stage 1 NED 1 DUMOULIN, Tom (GIANT-SHIMANO) 0
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