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Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2014: Stage 1


Hello and welcome to stage 1 of the race to Vélez Malaga.

Here's where we stand after yesterday's prologue with defending champion Alejandro Valverde leading after an impressive ride against the clock:


1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:08:22
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant Shimano 0:00:07
3 Jon Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:09
4 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky 0:00:13
5 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:14
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
7 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:00:15
8 Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant Shimano 0:00:16
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing

61km remaining from 186km

Cloudy conditions here to welcome the riders at the finish but they started out in sunshine earlier this morning and we have 61km remaining of racing.

The finish is in Jaén castle - literally. At the top of a third cat. climb it goes through a narrow gate right at the end the finish and then ends about 30 metres further on.

We have Movistar on the front of the peloton at the moment with a break up the road with a time gap of over 3:30.

The climb itself is not much cop, not sure what the approach road is like to its base but its long and steady rather than short and knarly, basically a series of long, fairly steady ramps and then flats, there's a sharp right-hand corner with about 200 metres then climbs to the finish, where the narrowness of the finish is going to cause some laughs.

No WorldTour teams appear to be in the main break. Sky and Movistar are clearly saving their powder for the final climb.

11 riders have made the split, as back in the bunch the Sky riders huddle around a bearded Bradey Wiggins. Richie Porte is also present and will be hoping for a decent result today.

The gap has actually gone out to 3:50 with Jens Voigt starting to bark a few orders near the front of the peloton. The German will know when it's time to for the bunch to react and chase the lead group down.

But it's all Movistar on the front for now as they look to control the race Valverde. Surely the best form of defence for him will be to go on the attack again today.

56km remaining from 186km

55km remaining and the gap has moved out to four minutes dead. The leaders are working well together and Movistar are going to need some help at the front of the race. So far it's not happening for the Spanish team but they won't panic.

There's still a lot of climbing to come, with two secondary cat climbs before that final third cat climb to the finish.

Away from the race, CN were granted a tour of the Omega Pharma QuickStep team bus. You can watch the video, right here.

There's a short descent facing the break and the peloton before the next climb (2nd cat) begins.

52km remaining from 186km

And the gap is continuing to grow, as it stretches out to 4:21.

The Movistar-led peloton are now on that weaving descent and the gap to the leaders has dropped to 3;22.

46km remaining from 186km

Just over an hour of racing remaining and Movistar are still on the front of the peloton. They've started to up the pace and up ahead the group of 11 are starting to lose time. They're working well together though.

In the space of around 4km the bunch have shaved a minute off the break's lead.

Venter takes a pull on the front of the break now and there are a few tired legs starting to appear in that move. Lozano comes through and takes over with a stint on the front.

44km remaining from 186km

Astana have moved closer to the front of the peloton but it's still Movistar on the front doing all the pulling.

The break have lined out on the climb, some of the riders are starting to miss turns and it wont' be long before the elastic snaps and some of these riders are distanced.

The riders in the break are: Amets Txurruka (Euskadi), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Jesus Ezquerra (ActiveJet), Stephane Poulhies (Cofidis), Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen), Francisco Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Alexis Guerin (ETIXX), Lennard Hofstede (Rabobank), David Lozano (Novo Nordisk), Nico Sijmens (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

A slight bit of mechanical problems for one rider in the break and he's off the back but the rest of the break are pressing on. The gap to the peloton now at 2:55.

And here come the attacks from the break as they close in on the summit. van Asbroeck takes the climb and then sits up and waits for the rest of the break.

On the descent and it's pretty technical with a number of sweeping corners. The break remain lined out though as they push on towards the penultimate climb.

40km remaining from 186km

One of the riders from the break has been brought back by the peloton. Valverde has his entire team on the front and setting the pace and already the peloton has shrunk.

Sweeping, long descent for the peloton now with the gap to the leaders at 2:46. Valverde will have to face up to attacks one would suspect, on that final climb and Scarponi and his Astana team continue to sit just off the front of the peloton at the moment.

Guerin is now off the front of the break but at the frnt of the peloton Astana have fired Kessiakoff off the front. He has been joined by one other rider.

At the front of the race the break has split to pieces. The peloton, with 29km, are still together though.

Armendia is now alone at the front front of the race with less than 30km to go.

Armendia has now been caught by Venter and two other riders. So we have a group of four riders now at the front of the action.

The rest of the break have been dropped ont his penultimate climb.

The four leaders: Lukasz Owsian (CCC Polsat), Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka) and Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen)

The attack from Kessiakoff has been caught but Astana are starting to probe at Movistar's defences.

The peloton are two minutes down on the four leaders with 28km to racing remaining.

Mate (Cofidis) has now attacked.

Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen) picks up the top points on the climb again and Mate is about to be caught. I think his move was just about the KOM points.

A long descent towards the finish and the last main climb before the finish. The gap is under two minutes now as Movistar continue to set the pace at the head of the field.

25km remaining from 186km

The gap is at 1:30 now and the four leaders look like they've run out of fight. A few looks between themselves and a few missed turns are starting to creep in as another handful off seconds ticks off their advantage.

A shade over 20km of racing left with the gap now down to one minute. Porte and Wiggins both near the front of the bunch as the peloton descend towards the final climb and the finish.

A quick mention for those in the press room at the race, working without electricity at the moment.

As the four leads take another set of corners well with 17km to go.

Movistar have done an  excellent job so far but it's all on Valverde's shoulders once we reach the final climb.

15km remaining from 186km

Fuglsang has attacked but his move isn't going anywhere. The Astana rider has a small gap but Movistar arent' going to let him get too far up the road.


And the break is about to caught too.

And Sky are now on the front and driving towards the final climb. Kennaugh sets the pace with Boasson Hagen next in line. Mollema is there, so is ten Dam and Scarponi. This is the first time Sky have moved to the front though, and it looks like they're trying to set something up for Porte.

7km remaining from 186km

Behind Sky a number of teams are fighting for position but it's all blue and black at the head of the peloton. Sky have done this time and time again.

Boasson Hagen is still on the front and taking a huge turn as he move towards the final 5km of racing.

The Sky rider was training post stage in Mallorca last week and that extra training is working to his advantage as he continues to set a frantic pace.

So close to the final climb and Kennaugh has to slow after dropping the field as Wiggins drops back so it's all about Porte as we expected.

Luis Leon Sanchez and Arroyo are close to the front as well. Valverde and Porte and Mollema are all there. But it's still Sky doing all the work at the front. There are around 30 riders left.

Kennaugh leads Thomas, with Porte in third wheel.

Valverde looks to be in good shape though and can follow as Kennaugh blows.

2km to go and Thomas hits the front.

Valverde is on Porte's wheel. Rebellin is there.

Luis Leon is also there as Thomas looks back to see who is left. The group is still around 20 strong.

1.5km to go and Porte will need to finish off the work from the front of the race.

We're now down to 9 riders. Scarponi is there too.

Scarponi is losing ground.

Thomas is still on the front with 1km to go.

Porte stil in second wheel, with Valverde following.

800meters left.

Rebellin can't can he?

Movistar take control with 500 to go.

Here's the steepest section

Porte goes for it but here comes Valverde

The Spaniard is clear. Can he hold on?

Valverde takes the stage, and perhaps a couple more seconds from his rivals. Porte opened up the sprint but Valverde had too much in the tank and come over the top with around 100 meters to go. It looks like Mollema may have finished in the top three.

The finish played into Valverde's hands and he's now on course to take his third overall win in the race. Sky did much of the work in the final run into the climb but with 700 meters to go Movistar took charge.

Mollema may have grabbed second, Rebellin third, Porte fourth.

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) CC Polsat Polkowice
4 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
5 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
7 Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis
8 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty Groupe Gobert
10 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team

Thanks for joining us today. Tune in tomorrow for more live coverage from Andalucia.


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