Colin Joyce of the Axeon Hagens Berman team won a tense sprint finish in the opening Tour of Alberta stage ahead of Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac) in Lethbridge to give team manager Axel Merckx a special victory at home in the team’s final race of the 2016 season.
Joyce also took the first Tour of Alberta leader's jersey, as the peloton split on the city circuit. Defending champion Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) was alert and made the front group, ensuring he is well positioned to claim back-to-back victories.
Joyce was a late-comer to the day's winning breakaway, bridging to a large group about halfway though the race with two other riders and then making the split when that group broke up on the penultimate lap of the 12km circuit.
In the finale, Joyce came through the last corner second wheel but then surged to the front just ahead of Howes at the line. He said an earlier bonus sprint at the start/finish provided a good bit of practice and he timed his sprint perfectly as Howes left it a little late to catch him.
Watch the Tour of Alberta highlights video to see how the race unfolded. Click here for our full stage report.