Quick-Step Floors rider wins opening stage in Argentina for the fourth year in a row
Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) took his first victory of 2018 as he won the opening stage of the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina.
Gaviria, who has now won the first stage of the race for the first four years, sprinted clear of the Italian duo of Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) and Matteo Pelucchi (Bora-Hansgrohe) to take the win in Pocito.
The race began without one of its biggest names, with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) not taking to the start line due to illness, before a host of South American riders made it into the main break of the day.
Pablo Anchieri (Uruguay), Daniel Juarez (Asociacion Civil Mardan) and Adrian Richeze (A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima), Duilio Ramos (Argentina), Victor Olivares (Chile), Juan Melivilo (Municipalidad de Pocito), and Facundo Cattapan (Municipalidad de Rawson) enjoyed a maximum lead of two minutes, before the WorldTour teams took control of the chase.
Quick-Step Floors, UAE Team Emirates, and Trek-Segafredo joined forces to reduce the gap and make the catch with just under 20km remaining. From there a few other futile moves were attempted on the finishing circuit around Pocito, but were quickly swept up as the peloton prepared for a bunch sprint.
While other teams squabbled on the front of the bunch in the final five kilometres, Quick-Step were content to sit back and bide their time, with Iljo Keisse and Maximiliano Richeze only bring Gaviria up to the head of affairs in the final kilometre.
With 200m to go, Richeze peeled off to leave Gaviria with a clear run to the line, an opportunity that he did not miss as he took a comfortable victory.
Vuelta a San Juan 2018, stage one: San Juan to Pocito, 148.9km
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, in 3-15-23
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
6. Mauro Richeze (Arg) A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima
7. Hector Lucero (Arg) Municipalidad de Pocito
8. Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
9. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
10. Manuel Peñalver (Esp) Trevigiani Phonix-Hemus, all at same time
General classification after stage one
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, in 3-15-13
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 4 secs
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6 secs
4. Daniel Juarez (Arg) Asociacion Civil Mardan, at 7 secs
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 10 secs
6. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
7. Mauro Richeze (Arg) A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima
8. Hector Lucero (Arg) Municipalidad de Pocito
9. Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
10. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors, all at same time