Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) claimed his fifth win of the season and his first after a month-long break on the opening day of the Tour of Norway.
The Belgian rider, whose last appearance was his victorious display at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 24, was the quickest in an uphill finish at Voss.
He beat Tobias Johannessen (Uno-X) to the line, with Eduard Prades (Caja Rural), who won this race in 2018, taking the final podium spot at two seconds.
The Ineos Grenadiers duo of Luke Plapp and Ethan Hayter, last year's winner, rounded out the top 10 a further second back.
“It was a cold and hard day. We had some low temperatures, rain, and even some wind, but the guys controlled the race perfectly and played a big part in my success. I am happy to return to competition with a victory and delighted that I had the legs to kick out and make the difference when it mattered," Evenepoel said after earning the 27th pro win of his career.
The 174km stage started out in Bergen and featured mostly flat terrain apart from a couple of short climbs, but the honours would come down to the punchy final climb. QuickStep and Uno-X combined to keep the day's breakaway under control and the race was all together heading onto the haul to Voss, which measured 2.1km at a vicious average gradient of 8.4%.
Attacks came and went but it came down to a dash to the line, with Evenepoel strongest of the lot. After the top five came a larger nine-man group at five seconds, including Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers).
"It’s always great to start a race like this, especially when I think this is the first time that I won an uphill sprint. We know it won’t be easy, but we’ll try to defend the orange jersey in the coming days."
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