Belgian rider Wout Van Aert pulled out a late surge to beat his rivals in a bunch sprint in stage one of the star-studded Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy on Wednesday. The Jumbo-Visma rider pipped Australian Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal and Colombian Fernando Gaviria of UAE Emirates on the line after the 156km mainly flat run at Lido di Camaiore in Tuscany.
The 26-year-old wears the race leader’s blue jersey going into day two of the seven-stage ‘Race of the Two Seas’ which acts as a warm up for the Giro d’Italia, which starts on May 8.
“I started my sprint at the right moment and managed to keep my speed until the finish,” said Van Aert, who is targeting overall victory after his disappointing fourth in the Strade Bianche last weekend.
“I’ll focus on the overall classification, then I’ll have a few days to recover afterwards and of course, after last year’s win I’m looking forward to trying to win Milano-Sanremo again,” said the Belgian.
“Coming here I was convinced that my shape was good. This win is good for the head and for the spirit of the team.”
It was a double for the Jumbo-Visma team with Primoz Roglic winning stage four of Paris-Nice to take the overall lead of the ‘Race to the Sun’ in France.
Six riders led an early breakaway opening up a gap of over four-minutes before the peloton picked up the pace and drew the lead group back in.
Defending champion Simon Yates of Britain finished down the field in the same time as the leading group along with the last three Tour de France winners Tadej Pogacar, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal.
“It was a good start, always a nervous start to the race, we got our leader Simon Yates through safe and sound,” said Matt White, director of Yates’ BikeExchange team.
Thursday’s 202km second stage starts in Camaiore with an undulating route taking in the winding roads of the plains of Pisa, passing near Siena, with a series of ups and downs before an uphill finish to Chiusdino.
STAGE 1 RESULTS
|1||VAN AERT Wout||Team Jumbo-Visma||3:36:17|
|2||EWAN Caleb||Lotto Soudal||0:00|
|3||GAVIRIA Fernando||UAE-Team Emirates||0:00|
|4||VENDRAME Andrea||AG2R Citroën Team||0:00|
|5||MEZGEC Luka||Team BikeExchange||0:00|
|7||HODEG Álvaro José||Deceuninck – Quick Step||0:00|
|8||BALLERINI Davide||Deceuninck – Quick Step||0:00|
|9||GARCÍA CORTINA Iván||Movistar Team||0:00|
|10||HOFSTETTER Hugo||Israel Start-Up Nation||0:00|
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini