Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 2020 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain.
Hola and welcome to our 2020 live coverage from Europe.
As we join the action and the Cyclingnews blimp take height, there are around 100km left to race of the 180km stage.
The sun is out in Valencia, where our reporter Alasdair Fotheringham is on the ground gathering exclusive news and interviews.
The 29-year-old came down sick on Monday night and, with the five-day race starting on Wednesday, the decision to skip the event was announced Tuesday morning.
"This is not the way I wanted to start the season, but we have to be wise. When you don't feel well, you'd better not race. I came to Spain to build up my condition, not to break it down. I hope to be back soon!" he wrote on social media.
There is a break of 4 riders, with the peloton at 2:30.
The riders are in the hilly middle section of the stage.
Today's opening stage is expected to end in a sprint finish due to the long flat ride to the finish in Vila-Real.
#VCV2020 50km complete & the 4 breakaway riders are holding a steady gap of just over 3 minutes.Our riders are relaxed in the main bunch, in what is their first race of the season. pic.twitter.com/wjRbWZK0qBFebruary 5, 2020
The riders are on the Alto de Marianet climb. It is 3.8km long and climbs at 5.2%.
Crash! Riders from CCC Team and Burgos-BH are involved.
The climb has helped the peloton pull back 30 seconds on the four attackers.
🇪🇸 #VCV2020The gap has come down to just over 2 minutes on the only climb of the day, the Alto del Marianet. All our guys in the peloton. pic.twitter.com/HsCdmTVSbtFebruary 5, 2020
The riders face a fast, rolling descent until 50km from the finish.
Still eighty kilometers to go in the @VueltaCV. The gap between the pack and the front is just over two minutes. Here is Matthias Brändle getting out of the saddle during the feed zone. He will help @cimo89 in the sprint later. Pic: @noaarnon.#vcv2020 #yallaisrael pic.twitter.com/DyMHrjAWirFebruary 5, 2020
The four riders in the attack are Cristian Scaroni (Gazprom), Diego Sevilla (Kometa Xstra Cycling Team), Julen Irizar (Fundación - Orbea) and Cédric Beullens (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise).
The speed is high in the peloton, reducing the gap to 90 seconds.
The one and only @Tim_Declercq - who is making his first outing of the season - drives the pace in the #VCV2020 peloton with about 70 kilometers to go.#WayToRide #TheWolfpackPhoto: @GettySport pic.twitter.com/ThYQHthdpyFebruary 5, 2020
Tim Declerq is doing the hard work for Deceuninck-QuickStep sprinter Fabio Jakobsen.
The Dutch sprinter is making his season debut but his team have already collected six victories thanks to Sam Bennett at the Tour Down Under and Remco Evenepoel at the Vuelta a San Juan.
Jakobsen faces some serious sprint rivals today, including Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma.
His Jumbo-Visma team is also helping chase down the break.
The start list includes 12 WorldTour teams, with some big-name riders opting to make their season debut in Spain.
These include Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal), Dan Martin (Israel Start-up), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren).
There is 45km to race now, as the peloton can almost see the break on a the straight main road to Vila-Real.
The Deceuninck-QuickStep team is lined out on the front of the peloton, with a lone Jumbo-Visma rider helping with the chase.
Our man on the ground in Vila-Real Alasdair Fotheringham has given us the important 'knowledge' of the final kilometre.
He confirmed it is straight, with some possible road furniture but is on a two-three vehicle width boulevard that is lightly rising until last 25 metres to go, when the road flattens out.
The road surface is not perfect, with a slight head wind.
It could be best to come off a wheel close to the line.
40km to go.
It's a busy day of racing, with the Etoile des Besseges stage race also starting in the south of France.
Stage 2 of the Saudi Tour has just ended, as has the men's and women's Herald Sun Tour.
We'll have full coverage of all the action.
As the races heads through La Llosa, the gap is down to 1:10. The peloton is coming!
🇪🇦 #VCV2020: 40 km para la meta de la primera etapa de la @VueltaCV en Vila-real y un guión invariable desde la salida. DQT y TJV controlan la fuga del día a menos de 2' de distancia, en pos del sprint masivo. Los Movistar Team, sin percances.📸 @PhotoGomezSport pic.twitter.com/wJAoVQOcllFebruary 5, 2020
This is the full Deceunick-QuickStep team.
Who’s excited about the start of #VCV2020, our first European race of the season? 😁 pic.twitter.com/t8W9SqzljKFebruary 5, 2020
27km to go.
The peloton is more compact now, as other sprint trains move up to the front. This is going to be a fast finish.
The four riders in the break dive down a slight descent and into a narrow junction.
The four are working together to stay away but the gap is down to 35 seconds.
The break is breaking up.
Scaroni has eased up and Sevilla too.
Julen Irizar (Fundación - Orbea) and Cédric Beullens (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise) remian out front but the peloton is only 25 seconds behind them.
12km to go.
The speed is high, with a series of roundabouts in the finale. Positioning and speed will be vital today, as always.
We can see Jumbo-Visma moving up on the right of the road.
The race turns off the wide highway and head towards the finish in Vila-Real.
10km go to and its Gruppo Compatto. The break has been caught.
Lotto Soudal are also moving up, riding for John Degenkolb, while Mitchelton-Scott are up front for Luka Mezgec.
But Deceuninck stretch out the peloton on the exit of a roundabout.
#VCV2020 With 10kilometres to go the final breakaway riders have been swept up and the pace is high in the bunch, as they manoeuvres through the twist and turns of multiple roundabouts. pic.twitter.com/xExQMeW4BdFebruary 5, 2020
5km to go!
The peloton is spread across the road at close to 60km/h. Here comes Jumbo-Visma.
Now Ineso punch their way to the front to protect their GC riders.
A right turn shuffles the peloton and the sprinters.
Ineos is also riding for Ben Swift.
There are cars parked on both sides of the road, adding extra risk to the finish.
A UAE rider attacks alone.
2km to go.
Some trains have become unhinged. This will be a hectic sprint.
Deceuninck lead it out.
Kristoff is there too.
Jakobsen or Groenewegen??
It was close. Jakobsen lead it all the way but Groenewegen came very, very late.
Groenewegen got it!
Groenewegen was stuck behind and alone but followed the wheels until 150m to go and then surged down the left.
As the other riders head to their team buses, Groenewegen heads to the podium. He is also the first race leader.
Initial results show that Kristoff was third and Ben Swift fourth.
John Degenkolb was 7th on his debut with Lotto Soudal.
🇪🇸 #VCV2020That was a close sprint finish but @GroenewegenD takes the win! 🤛 🤛#samenwinnen pic.twitter.com/MhOAlq9NwFFebruary 5, 2020
The photo finish shows Groenewegen got it by a few centimetres.
Groenewegen decides to wear his sunglasses on the podium as he is celebrated as stage winner.
"I think we were very strong so thanks to my team," Groenewegen said after the finish.
"It was also very hectic in the final, but I was in a position to sprint. We take the first victory for the team so it's really great.
"Everyone is fresh in the first races, so if you can win the first one it's really nice.
"I think the shape is really good, the team is really strong, there are two chances more this week, so we'll try to win again."
This tweet from Israel Start-Up nation shows just how close the sprint was between Groenewegen and Jakobsen.
Davide Cimolai / @cimo89 finishes eleventh in the first stage of the @VueltaCV. Full report and Cino’s reaction follows. #vcv2020 pic.twitter.com/MeO8y2yNj1February 5, 2020
Here's Groenewegen in the leader's jersey on the final podium.
Damos por finaliza la jornada de hoy. Etapa 1 #Castelló-@ajvila #VCV2020 GP @BancoSabadell pic.twitter.com/0bJhXxzgS9February 5, 2020
To read our full stage report, study the full results and our growing photo of all the action, click here.
This is another great image of Groenewegen hitting the line to win.
Thanks for joining us for live coverage. We'll be back on Thursday for coverage of stage 2.
The 181km stage from Torrent to Cullera covers rolling roads for 120km, before a flat section and a final kick-up to the line in Cullera.
It could be a day for a strong sprinter or finisseur like Alejandro Valverde or even Dan Martin.
Check Cyclingnews for all the news and interviews from the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the other races underway, plus other news and tech content.
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