Michal Schlegel recorded solid debut in new colors, taking top 30 places on stage 1 of Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol .
Info: February 15th, Rincón de la Victoria (Málaga) – Granada, 155,4km
Weather: Sunny, warm
Course: hilly, five categorized climbs (Puero de Zafaraya, cat. 1 (43,8km), Alto del Navazo, cat. 3 (56,5km), Alto de Alhama, cat.3 (70,3km), Alto del Lucero, cat. 2 (83,9km), Monachil El Purche, cat. 1 (136,1km), 7km long, avg. 8%)
The first breakaway of the race consisted of 7 riders. Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto – Soudal), Georg Preidler (Team Sunweb), Florian Sénéchal (Cofidis), Kirill Sveshnikov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Berden de Vries (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) and Daniel Turek (Israël Cycling Academy) were part of the initial move and later they were joined by a lone chaser, Ibas Salas (Burgos-BH). Together they gained over 5 minutes of advantage.
In the hard, hilly terrain the escape was being gradually reduced. It would drop riders one by one and eventually Van der Sande, Senechal and Turek were the only escapees left in the front. They got caught with 37km remaining, before the hardest climb of the day.
CCC Sprandi Polkowice made their presence known at the bottom of the ascent, when they moved up front and were setting the pace. They were working for Michal Schlegel, for whom it was a season debut and first race in new colors. Thanks to his teammates he was able to position himself well for the decisive battle.
Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) was one of the first riders to kick and his move broke the field apart right away. He initiated the selection and after the descent 6 riders emerged in the front – him, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Diego Rosa, Wout Poels (both Team Sky), Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain Merida) and Sebastian Reichenbach (FDJ).
Valverde was the fastest among them at the line, taking the stage and overall lead. He edged out Poels and Reichenbach. Schlegel came in in bigger group, 1:04 behind the winner, in 27th place.