Ivan Sosa (Team Ineos) remains in the fray for a third overall victory in the Vuelta a Burgos after a tough opening stage which featured crosswind splits, a tough double ascent of a finishing climb and the loss of a teammate, Sebastian Henao, to a crash-caused injury.
Sosa claimed 15th on the stage after Ineos dominated on the first of the two ascents of the Alto del Castillo, while teammates Eddie Dunbar and Richard Carapaz also finished in the same group, 10 seconds back on stage winner Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The Colombian therefore remains very much in the game for the next four stages of the race, and although stage 2 will likely prove to be about damage control, recent history shows the summit finishes on stages 3 and 5 are both more to the Colombian climber's liking.
Speaking before the race began, Sosa told local newspaper El Diario de Burgos that he and new Ineos teammate Richie Carapaz, third overall last year, would likely share the role of leader in the team's victory goals.
"The team's idea is to win here either with me or with another teammate," Sosa said. "And the ideal strategy is to be well-placed in every moment that we can be, so we can then see in the first mountain stage who will lead in what follows."
Sosa confirmed that his returning to racing in an event he has won two years in succession was "deeply motivating."
"It's a very important race for me. I'm still getting used to the time zone here, as it's only been a week since we flew into Europe from Colombia, but we're all very keen to get racing as we don't really know what kind of condition we're in."
Apart from Burgos peloton being unusually gung-ho in comparison to other years, Sosa recognised that the level of competition in the race would likely be tougher than other seasons.
"There's an exceptionally large number of high-quality participants," he told El Diario de Burgos, "and we're all wanting to test our form after so long without racing. I think the racing is going to be very full-on, and very fast." One factor, though, counted in his favour: as an 'old hand' in Burgos, his knowledge of the two big mountain stages, identical to 2018 and 2019, was greater than relative newcomers to the five-day Spanish race.
Although Sosa came through the opening stage unscathed, his compatriot and teammate Sebastian Henao was much less fortunate. Henao got entangled in one of the multiple crashes with some 50 kilometres to go, with the ensuing right shoulder dislocation forcing him to quit his first race of the revived 2020 season.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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