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Rune Herregodts took the opening stage of the 2022 Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol.
The Belgian held off American Stephen Bassett (Human Powered Health) and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) at the conclusion of the 200.7km stage to take the biggest win of his career.
“This is a very important victory for myself and the team. It’s a prestigious race with a good field. It was great to be with two in the break, it was a real team effort. We can be very happy,” Herregodts said.
A group of pursuers was a further 10 seconds back.
Herregodts was the fastest survivor of an eight-man, day-long raid that launched just after the start, which also included Bassett and Okamika.
WorldTour teams AG2R Citroën, Bahrain-Victorious, and Astana Qazaqstan did the work to leash the escapees which maintained a promising six-minute gap with just about 50km remaining.
Ineos Grenadiers and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux added firepower to the chase for the following 30km, into an 8km ascent of the Alto La Parilla.
Herregodts used the 6km stretch from the summit of Parilla to the final climb, up Iznájar — 1.3km at 7.2 percent — try to hold his quickly-shrinking gap, as well as to shed more riders from the front.
The previously thinned group on the front came back together but the bunch came apart again, quickly, on the final ascent when Herregodts went on the attack.
Only Bassett could stay with Herregodts’ final move — until he didn’t — with the fading Amerian managing to hold the Spaniard Okamika at the line.
“I didn’t come here with ambitions for GC, so I just want to enjoy this,” the stage-winner added. “I’ll try and hold onto the jersey for as long as possible but our race is already a great success and everything that comes now is a bonus.”
— Human Powered Health (@HumanPwrdHealth) February 16, 2022
2022 Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol stage 1 results
- Rune Herregodts (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise), 5:16:44
- Stephen Bassett (Human Powered Health), at :02
- Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), at s.t.
- Xabier Isasa (Euskaltel-Euskadi), at :12
- Lindsay De Vylder (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), at :15
- Mark Christian (EOLO-Kometa Cycling Team), at :18
- Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), at :31
- Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar Team), at :37
- Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), at s.t.
- Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën Team), at :38