Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) took the race lead on the opening day of the Vuelta a Burgos after storming to victory on the uphill finish in Burgos.
The Colombian picked his moment at 600 metres from the line on the 900-metre climb to the finish. He simply soloed away from the peloton, who hesitated as Buitrago rode away to claim his third win of a breakout season for the 22-year-old.
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) took second place, three seconds back, while Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) and Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) also finished with the same deficit.
Buitrago, who won stages of the Saudi Tour and the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, now holds the race lead by seven seconds ahead of two expected sprint days in Villadiego and Villarcayo.
It was EF Education-EasyPost's Ruben Guerreiro who led the way onto the final hill before Buitrago took advantage of a short lull at the front to jump away around a cobbled bend. His rivals failed to put up any real challenge to the third-year pro's acceleration, leaving him to take the third victory of his career.
How it unfolded
The 157km opener had been a largely uneventful day for the most part, save for the hilly final around Burgos. The battle for the break was resolved inside the first 15km as a trio of Spanish riders got away at the front.
Xabier Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jesus Ezquerra (Burgos-BH), and Diego Sevilla (Eolo-Kometa) were the three men in question. They would only fight for minor prizes, though – including the KOM competition, where Sevilla took an early lead after taking first over the first-category climb of Altotero.
With QuickStep-AlphaVinyl among the teams controlling the situation at the head of the peloton, the three men in the break were allowed an advantage of almost nine minutes at one point. After the opening 40km, though, that gap would steadily decrease.
Jumbo-Visma were up front when the break was finally reeled in with 22km to go, just as the riders were hitting the finishing Alto del Castillo climb (900m at 5.3%) for the first time.
Astana Qazaqstan pushed the pace over the top, while several riders – including Raul Garcia (Kern Pharma) and Astana's own Vincenzo Nibali – were prominent at the front on the way down the other side.
With the final all about the next, and last, ascent of the hill, the flat run around Burgos and back to the base was marked by stop-start racing and several unsuccessful moves.
Trek-Segafredo took control at the 10km mark, after which there would be no further attacks as the likes of UAE Team Emirates, Ineos Grenadiers, and EF Education-EasyPost swamped the front.
However, despite the ambitions of those GC contenders such as Almeida, Geoghegan Hart, Guerreiro, and Hindley, it was Buitrago who powered away on the final slopes to the finish to take the second leader's jersey of his pro career.
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