Astana's Andriy Grivko upset the French at La Méditerranéenne with the Ukrainian's stage 3 victory setting up his first overall stage victory despite Jan Bakelants' (AG2R La Mondiale) solo stage 4 victory. Grivko's 11th place in the chase group behind Bakelants was good enough to seal the overall victory 18 seconds ahead of FDJ's Matthieu Ladagnous with Bakelants in third.
A first ever team time trial for FDJ saw the French WorldTour take control of the race with Arnaud Démare claiming a second straight win for the team in Port Vendres with leadout man Mickael Delage finishing second. Grivko's late attack on stage 3 saw the Astana rider take over the race lead by his winning margin, 18 seconds, which would remain unchanged at the conclusion of the race.
Final stage victory for Bakelants was AG2R La Mondiale's first of the 2016 season with the team also securing the points jersey via the Belgian, the mountains classification with Cyril Gautier and the team classification. Direct Energie's Lilian Calmejane, 23, won the youth classification having finished eighth overall.
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BMC's Philippe Gilbert won his first race of the season at Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia , outsprinting Alejandro Valverde from a small bunch, having lead-out work from teammate Ben Hermans. The 1.1 Spanish race saw the 129-rider strong peloton cover 199.3km from San Javier to Murcia, with the category 1 Alto Collado Bermejo the decisive climb of the race.
The day-long breakaway of Miguel Angel Benito (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Artem Ovechkin (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Kleber Ramos (Funvic Soul Cycles - Carrefour), Benat Txoperena Matxikote (Euskadi Basque Country), Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), and Kamil Gradek (Verva ActiveJet Pro Cycling Team) had built a lead of almost eight minutes over the peloton before the Movistar team split the race on the Bermejo.
A late attack from Tejay van Garderen caused further selection and placed Gilbert in prime position to take the victory as Hermans delivered the former world champion into the winning position for the sprint against Valverde.
The 31st edition of the Clasica de Almeria started in uncertainty with the 1.1 event seemingly neutralised for the first 170km of the 185km race before clarification from the race organisers explained in fact it was the first 15km only to be neutralised due to strong winds that reached 80km/h. The race would eventually take place in Roquetas de Mar, with the peloton to complete seven laps of a 3.5km circuit.
As the race neared its conclusion, IAM Cycling came to the front looking to deliver Matteo Pelucchi, the 2011 winner of the race, to the line first but it would instead his teammate Leigh Howard celebrating victory following a photofinish in which he edged out Katusha's Alexey Tsatevich. It was the third win by an Australian in five years after victories in 2011 by Michael Matthews and 2012 by Mark Renshaw.
Andrea Fedi celebrated Valentine's Day with his first even professional victory, soloing to the win at Trofeo Laigueglia with Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani CSF) winning the second-placed sprint two seconds in arrears. The Southeast - Venezuela rider had been part of an earlier-breakaway but rode away from his companions in the hills outside Laigueglia but couldn't shake the fast finishing peloton. Fedi entered the final kilometre with just a handful of seconds over his chasers but the 24-year-old remained composed under pressure to ensure at the line alone.
The win was Southeast - Venezuela's first of the season who are next off to the Ruta del Sol in Spain later this week.
Sanne Cant and Mathieu van der Poel have won the final rounds of the Superprestige season in Middelkerke. Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) finished second to van der Poel as World Champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan Vastgoedservice) sealed overall Superprestige victory
The men's race started in dramatic fashion with Laurens Sweeck breaking his chain on the start line before Van Aert wrecked his derailleur on the second lap, forcing him to run to the pits for a new bike. Van Aert made a recovery to finish third, as van der Poel was leading the race on his own, as Nys crossed the line six seconds later to hand the 21-year-old overall victory.
Cant took her win 21 seconds ahead of Sophie De Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg) with British champion Nikki Harris (Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) rounding out the podium in third place. Cant was the dominant rider across the eight rounds to seal the overall series victory.
South African national championships
Data Dimension's Jaco Venter is the new South African road champion after an attack inside the final 10km paid off. The 29-year-old was followed home by U23 rider Stefan De Bod, from the team's Continental squad, while teammate Reinardt Janse van Rensburg finished third but would be awarded the silver medal to match his efforts in the time trial. In the women's road race, An-Li Kachelhoffer started her Lotto-Soudal Ladies career in style as he soloed to the national title, seven seconds ahead of Lise Olivier (Bizkaia-Durango).
Earlier in the week, Daryl Impey repeated his 2015 win in the time trial for his fifth career win while Juanita Venter rode the women's title.
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