Frenchman Jonathan Hivert (Sojasun) won the opening road stage of the 2013 Ruta del Sol in Spain on Monday.
Prologue winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) placed second on the stage to safely maintain his overall race lead, with Bauke Mollema (Blanco) in third.
The remnants of an early four-man escape group were caught by the peloton on the last of the days three climbs. Toward the finish, a large 20-plus group of riders including Hivert and Valverde split away.
The remains of the peloton never saw the lead group again as the gap increased to well over a minute. By the finish in Ubrique, the large lead group had fractured into smaller groups with Valverde, Hivert and Mollema at the front.
Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) led the main peloton home a minute and a hlaf after Hivert, Valverde and companions.
Valverde leads Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) by seven seconds in the general classification. Mollema is third at 11 seconds.
The four-day UCI 2.1-ranked race continues on Tuesday with a 194.2km road stage from Trebujena to Montilla. The race concludes on Wednesday, February 20.
Alejandro Valverde leads the escape group into the finish
Jonathan Hivert takes the stage win
Alejandro Valverde in the race lead