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Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2018: Stage 1


As we pick up the action after 100 kilometres, a break of five riders has a lead of 4:05 over the peloton. Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi-Murias), Silvan Dillier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Txomin Juaristi (Fundación Ciclista Euskadi), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) and Luis Mas (Caja Rural-RGA Seguros) forged clear in the opening kilometres and continue to combine smoothly off the front.

Mas led the break over the first climb, the category 2 Alto de Mijas, while Dillier took the first intermediate sprint after 33km. Bravo claimed the second after 70km. The escapees had a maximum advantage of 4:50, but the gap has since stabilised just above the four-minute mark.

Of course, the bike race, today at least, is a mere side show to the circus surrounding Chris Froome's first race since news broke in December of his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol during last year's Vuelta a Espana. Froome spoke briefly at the Sky team bus before the start in Mijas, where he said the word "process" a lot, and complained vaguely of the "misinformation out there." Our man in Andalusia Aladair Fotheringham has the full story here.

Team Sky's PR key talking points were equally apparent in manager Dave Brailsford's comments before the start. Brailsford also complained about "misinformation" in the media and was instantly afforded the opportunity by said media to highlight and correct any such misinformation. Spoiler alert: he declined to do so. Why? "Because it could jeopardise the whole process." Sure.

Brailsford did acknowledge that Froome's participation in the Ruta del Sol was not welcomed by all and sundry, though he defended his right to compete. "Nobody’s denying it’s a challenging situation but equally I think it’s only fair at this point that everybody abides by the process and the process totally allows him to race in this situation and that’s what we’re doing." Alasdair Fotheringham has more details here.

83km remaining from 197km

The Ruta del Sol is one of just three races taking place today. Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) has already secured a fine victory on stage 2 of the Tour of Oman, while stage 1 of the Volta ao Algarve is under way. Susan Westemeyer's live coverage is here.

It’s a rugged finale to today’s stage. After the Puerto de Zafarya, there are still four more climbs to come: the Alto del Navazo (category 3), the Alto de Alhama (category 3), the Alto del Lucero (category 2) and the Alto de la Malaha (category 3) ahead of the run to the finish on Granada’s strikingly-named Paseo de la Bomba.

The escapees are maintaining their five-minute buffer as they continue to climb the Puerto de Zafarya.

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the death of Marco Pantani and while the exploits of the rider are still celebrated, cycling's part in the tragic and senseless demise of the man often seems to be airbrushed from history. Stephen Farrand wrote this article for the tenth anniversary of Pantani's death in 2014, and it remains relevant today.

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Chris Froome was not, of course, among the riders who participated in Tuesday's pre-Ruta del Sol press event, but his former teammate Mikel Landa, who is making his debut for Movistar, was unconcerned by his presence on the race. "Froome has followed all the rules, so he can compete," Landa said. "He's welcome here." Read the full story here.

Our man in Granada Alasdair Fotheringham tells us that conditions at the finish are cool but dry, and there is little by way of wind to report of.

57km remaining from 197km

A reminder once more of the names in this break: Luis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale), Txomin Juaristi (Team Euskadi), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) and Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi-Murias). EF Education First-Drapac are leading the peloton in support of Sacha Modolo, who they hope can hang tough on the run-in and contest an eventual sprint.

Joe Dombrowski rides on the front of the peloton for Education First-Drapac, while Philip Deignan (Team Sky) moves up in support of Chris Froome.

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There are only four riders left in this escape, incidentally. Juaristi sat up on the approach to the summit of the Lucero, and the young Basque has already been swept up by the bunch.

Valgren and Astana lead the peloton over the top of the Lucero with a deficit of 2:50 to the four remaining escapees: Mas, Dillier, Bravo and Sicard.

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Only three riders remain in front over the top: Dillier, Mas and Bravo. Sicard has been caught by the peloton.

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Jon Ander Insausti (Team Euskadi) has managed to slip clear of the bunch and open a small gap, but the Basque won't last long at this pace.

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Oliver Naesen (AG2R) leads the bunch into  the finishing straight.

Sacha Modolo opens his sprint and hits the front...

Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac) races his arms as he crosses the line, but Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie) was very close...

Modolo believes he won the stage, Boudat thinks he might have won it. We await formal confirmation...

Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie) wins stage 1 of the Ruta del Sol.

Shades of Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire and the 2004 Milan-San Remo as Modolo celebrated too soon. Boudat was by some distance the quickest rider over the final 50 metres, and he stole in to take the win.

The initial shot from the television cameras was focused on Modolo and didn't show Boudat haring past just right of the picture to win the stage. Clement Venturini (AG2R La Mondiale) took third, ahead of Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), while Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) placed fifth.


That's the first win of the season for Boudat, who used his track speed to claim his first win of the season and the overall leader's jersey at the Ruta del Sol. Boudat was world omnium champion in 2014, and turned professional the following season. Still only 23 years of age, he won two races in 2017, but will enjoy greater freedom to sprint for himself in 2018 following Bryan Coquard's departure to Vital Concept.

There are no time bonuses at the Ruta del Sol, so the general classification is identical to the stage standings:

As far as we can decipher, Chris Froome and the GC contenders all finished safely in the main peloton.

A disappointed Modolo points out that he only raised his arms after he crossed the line, and so was not guilty of complacency. "Before writing about it, watch the sprint from overhead," he says. 

A reminder that stage 1 of the Volta ao Algarve is entering its closing phase, and Susan Westemeyer is keeping tabs on the action here.

A full report, results and pictures from today's stage of the Ruta del Sol will soon be available here. We will also have Chris Froome's thoughts on his first day of racing since news of his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol at last year's Vuelta a Espana. You can read his comments from before the stage here, as well as those of Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford.

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) has claimed the spoils on stage 1 of the Volta ao Algarve, beating Arnaud Demare (FDJ). Full details to follow here.

A reminder of today's result on stage 1 of the Ruta del Sol:

Thanks for following our live coverage of the Ruta del Sol on Cyclingnews this afternoon. We'll be back with more tomorrow from stage 2. In the meantime, you'll find a full report, results and pictures here, and Alasdair Fotheringham will have all the news and reaction from Granada.

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