Remco Evenepoel solos to first 2022 victory on Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage one

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider attacks to victory with over 4km to go in Spanish stage race opener

Remco Evenepoel in 2022
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Remco Evenepoel got off to a winning start in 2022, taking victory on his season debut at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

The Belgian superstar cruised away from the reduced peloton on the final climb of the 166.7km opening stage of the Spanish race, timing his move perfectly with 4.7km to go to leave rivals in his wake.

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Evenpoel then settled into his time trialling rhythm to maintain a gap of over 10 seconds to the lone pursuer, Aleksandr Vlasov of Bora-Hansgrohe. The Russian expectedly was unable to make any headway into the advantage of rampaging Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider, who had topped the final climb solo before staying clear through the final 3km or so to the finish.

Vlasov managed to limit the damage to 16 seconds at the line, and will look to stage three's summit finish, or an error from Evenepoel, to steal the overall from the stage one winner, who has made a habit of winning these short one-week stage races.

The next best rider was the Ineos Grenadiers Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez, who crept in a second before a group of contenders at 31 seconds down to Evenepoel.

Early in the day a group of five riders - Joan Bou (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Ben King (Human Powered Health), Jesús Ezquerra (Burgos-BH), David González (Caja-Rural), and Iván Moreno (Equipo Kern Pharma) - escaped to form the day's main breakaway.

They managed to establish a maximum gap of near four minutes on the main bunch, which for the most part was controlled by a Movistar in service of the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Enric Mas.

It was inevitable that the break would be reeled back in eventually on the undulating 166km course, and the gap tightened substantially in the final 50km with just four riders (Ezquerra dropped) remaining out front with 21 seconds in hand at the 35km to go mark.

Things were all back together as 32km ticked over and the bigger teams began to fight for space at the front. Bahrain Victorious' work saw Matej Mohorič take a three-second time bonus and the intermediate sprint with around 19km to go, but it was Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step) who did the most damage before the final climb.

The Belgian pulled the peloton with a powerful effort towards the final climb before Bahrain attempted to set the pace on the slope itself.

Antwan Tolhoek (Trek-Segafredo) was the first to try an attack in earnest with around 5km to, but it was short-lived. The next real move however would stick, with Evenepoel timing his effort perfectly with 4.7km remaining to fire away from the group as there was a brief lull in proceedings.

Thanks to his victory Evenepoel now leads the five-stage race with an advantage of 19 seconds over Vlasov, and will be confident of keeping that buffer on day two's medium-mountain stage to Torrent.

Results

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2022, stage one: Les Alqueries to Torralba del Pinar (166.7km)

1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, in 4-16-32
2. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 16s
3. Carlos Rodriguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers, at 31s
4. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 32s
5. Luis León Sánchez (Esp) Bahrain Victorious
6. Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Israel-Premier Tech, all at same time
9. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain Victorious, at 42s
10. David De La Cruz (Esp) Astana, at 53s

General classification after stage one

1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, in 4-16-32
2. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 19s
3. Carlos Rodriguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers, at 37s
4. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 42s
5. Luis León Sánchez (Esp) Bahrain Victorious
6. Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Israel-Premier Tech, all at same time
9. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain Victorious, at 48s
10. David De La Cruz (Esp) Astana, at 1-03s

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