Barbier takes opening stage of Vuelta a San Juan

Evenepoel caught up in late-race crash but escapes time-losses after jury verdict.

Rudy Barbier (Israel Start-Up Nation) got the season off to a strong start for his new-formed team with a sprint win at Vuelta a San Juan Sunday. The Frenchman beat Manuel Belletti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Tomas Contte (Municipalidad de Pocito) to the line in San Juan city center.

The second-tier Argentinian race drew a strong field of both local and WorldTour riders. Top sprinters Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) were all in contention in the final but failed to launch a significant move in the bunch kick to the line.

Tour de France star Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) is also starting his season at the seven-stage race, which offers a slightly lower-key start to the year than the Tour Down Under.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was bought down with a number of others in a crash in the final three kilometers of the race, causing him to lose over one minute. However, the race jury later confirmed that all time-losses caused by the crash were annulled as the incident was caused by a spectator touching a rider’s handlebars.

Stage 2, Monday, is likely to see another sprint finish before the first GC skirmish in the 16km time trial on stage 3.

Stage 4 takes a hilly route that could see a breakaway or the sprinters contest the win. Stage 5 heads to the high mountains, with a summit finish on Alto Colorado, which peaks out over 2,500m. Stage 6 will see an opportunity for a punchy sprinter, before the race wraps up with a criterium in San Juan.