Huffman scores first win for Team SmartStop

Former Astana rider solos to stage victory in Dominican Republic

Former Astana rider Evan Huffman scored his first win of 2015 for Team SmartStop Tuesday at the Vuelta Independencia Nacional Republica in the Dominican Republic.

Huffman soloed to the stage 3 finish 29 seconds ahead of the field sprint led by Team Ecuador's Byron Guama and EPM-UNE's Jaime Castaneda. SmartStop's Travis McCabe was fourth.

"I'm really happy to win so early in the year, I view it as a confirmation of the hard training I did this winter and the awesome atmosphere of my new team, SmartStop," said Huffman

Huffman had a busy day off the front and was in two solo breakaways over the 177km stage from Santa Domingo to Samana.

Huffman and iRT Racing's Eamon Lucas escaped the bunch in a seven-rider group that got away 24km into the 177km stage. The two Americans eventually dropped the rest of their breakaway companions and built a gap of nearly three minutes just 56km into the stage.

Huffman rode away from Lucas and took maximum points at the first KOM of the day, but constant attacking behind in the bunch soon whittled away at his lead, and he was back in the group with 65km remaining.

The peloton was still together with 20km and one climb to go when Huffman slipped away again, this time taking Jose Marquez (Venezuela) with him. The SmartStop rider took the maximum KOM points again and secured the mountains jersey, but the 25-year-old wasn't finished. He dropped Marquez during the run to the finish and soloed the rest of the way to the line for the stage win.

Casteneda currently leads the overall and the points competition in the the eight-day UCI 2.2 race that ends Sunday, March 1.

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