Dylan Groenewegen scorched past his rivals at the line to take victory on his first race day of 2020 at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
After a tense run to the finish with plenty of hazardous road furniture, the fight for the opening stage came down to a flat-out final 500m with sprinters spread across the road after four hours of racing.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) and Ben Swift (Team Ineos) were all there as the sprint opened up, but Jakobsen hit the front and looked to have taken the victory before Groenewegen came past late to take the stage and move into the overall lead.
How it happened
European stage racing kicked off with the opening stage of the 2020 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, with a 180km from Castelló to Vila Real on Spain’s east coast.
The stage featured notable climbs in the opening half, most significant of which was the category three Alto del Marianet (3.8km-long at 5.2 per cent) which crested 100km into the stage.
Then it was a long and fast downhill run, with a flat section leading into a gentle rise before the high-speed downhill run to the line.
Racing kicked off as a four-rider break went clear and pulled out more than two minutes on the bunch.
The riders in the move were Diego Sevilla (Kometa Xstra), Cristian Scaroni (Gazprom-RusVelo), Julen Irizar (Fundación-Orbea) and Cédric Beullens (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), who were never given much freedom as the bunch narrowed the gap down to 30 seconds with 80km still to race, but extended out as the peloton didn’t want to make the catch too soon.
The break finally collapsed with around 20km to go and the bunch made the catch, with Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma doing the bulk of the work on the front.
Into the final 10km and the wide roads inspired a rapid pace, Quick-Step, Jumbo and Lotto-Soudal most prominent at the sharp end.
The characteristic Spanish road furniture offered up plenty of hazards with roundabouts punctuating the final 5km,
Despite the dangers, the peloton made it through safely to final roundabout with 500m and a straight shot to the line, with Quick-Step leading the charge.
Ivan Garcia from Bahrain-McLaren was the first rider to launch his sprint, with Jakobsen following suit soon after.
The wide road gave all the sprinters a clear run, with Jakobsen leading, Kristoff, Van Avermaet, and Swift all charging just behind.
But Groenewegen emerged as the strongest of the bunch, taking Jakobsen at the line to claim victory.
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2020, stage one: Castelló to Vila Real (180km)
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, 4-07-40
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
4. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Ineos
5. Juan José Lobato (Esp) Fundación-Orbea
6. Jon Aberasturi (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
8. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Michelton-Scott
9. Iván Garciá (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren
10. Lawrence Naesen (Bel) Ag2r La Mondiale, all at same time
General classification after stage one
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma