Dimension Data's Giacomo Nizzolo dedicated his victory on the opening stage of the Vuelta a Burgos on Tuesday to Lotto Soudal's Bjorg Lambrecht, who died after crashing at last week's Tour de Pologne.
It was only Dimension Data team's seventh win of the season, but Nizzolo's third – and a relatively unusual one for the Italian sprinter in that it was far from a bunch sprint in the finale to the opening leg of the five-day Spanish stage race, with the stage instead finishing in Burgos on a kilometre-long, six per cent climb, which included a 200-metre stretch of cobblestones.
However, Nizzolo was able to get the better of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA's Mikel Aranburu and Eduard Grosu (Delko Marseille Provence) on the uphill finish, and takes the race's first leader's jersey into stage 2 from Gumiel de Izan to Lerma on Wednesday.
"I wasn't that confident in the beginning, as last week wasn't so easy for me; the feelings weren't that good,"said Nizzolo on his team's website, having finished sixth at last week's RideLondon-Surrey Classic.
"But in the middle of the stage, I felt OK, so I asked the team to pull at the front to bring back the breakaway. I approached the final climb in second position, and it was a tough final – a hard one – but in the end it worked out, so I'm really happy for me and the team," he said.
"Today is an important day for cycling, and I want to give this victory to Bjorg Lambrecht," Nizzolo said, with the 22-year-old Belgian's funeral having taken place in his hometown of Knesselare on Tuesday.