Alejandro Valverde won stage one of the Ruta del Sol today to consolidate his overall lead after claiming yesterday’s prologue.
Valverde was well protected by his Movistar teammates on the 2.4km climb to the finish with Jon Izagirre executing a well-time lead-out in the final run. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) was just off the pace for second with the 42 year old Davide Rebellin (CCC) rounding out the podium.
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Britain’s Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas dug deep inside the last 10km working for Sky teammate Richie Porte, who could not match the speed of the diminished front group and placed fourth.
An 11-man break including Beñat Txoperena (Euskadi), Christo Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Bartlomiej Matysiak (CCC), Jesus Ezquerra (ActiveJet), Stephane Poulhies (Cofidis), Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Balsoide), Lluís Guillermo Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros), Alexis Guerin (Etixx), Lennard Hofstede (Rabobank Development), David Lozano (Novo Nordisk) and Nico Sijmens (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) escaped some 10km into the 186km stage, which the winner covered in just over five hours.
The escapees were allowed a healthy advantage throughout but the real show began some 50km from the finish when Sky and Movistar started to mobilise at the front of the main group.
Unsuccessful attacks then came thick and fast inside the final 30km and the race leaders were all done with 10km remaining, after which Sky started driving on the front of the main group.
A series of climbs to Jaen saw only some eight riders contest the finish with Thomas peeling off inside the last 2km.
The tour continues tomorrow with a 182km run from Sanlucar La Mayor to Sevilla.
Ruta del Sol 2014, stage one: Velez Malaga to Jaen, 186km
1. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar 5-08-57
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 4 secs
3. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CC Polsat Polkowice
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
5. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros
6. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis at 11 secs
7. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis at 12 secs
8. Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar at 15 secs
9. Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty Groupe Gobert at 16 secs
10. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 17 secs
Overall classification after stage one
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 5-17-19
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 19 secs
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros at 21 secs
4. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Trek at 37 secs
5. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 38 secs