Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen returned to the OVO Energy Tour of Britain in style on Saturday, winning the opening stage of the 2019 race between Glasgow and Kirkcudbright in Scotland.
Groenewegen, a two-time stage winner in the event, beat Davide Cimolai (Israel Cycling Academy) and former European champion Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-SCOTT) to the line in the Dumfries & Galloway market town after a textbook lead-out from his Jumbo – Visma Cycling team-mates. He takes the OVO Energy green jersey of race leader going into Sunday’s second stage in the Scottish Borders.
“It was perfect,” said Groenewegen afterwards. “We had no help today so we did it all as a team, we rode very strongly to catch the breakaway make it a sprint. I could take my own line; it was a very good lead out. I was on the wheel of Trentin, and sprinted full gas.
“I’ll look at the road book this evening and hope to win another stage. I think tomorrow’s a new chance and I will try again.”
Team Jumbo Visma had worked tirelessly on the front of the peloton throughout the stage south from Glasgow city centre, with little assistance from other teams. Their work kept the day’s breakaway pinned with never more than a two minute advantage, as Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes), James Fouche (Team WIGGINS Le Col), Jacob Scott (Swift Carbon Pro Cycling) and Dries de Bondt (Corendon Circus) toiled in the warm Scottish sunshine on the race’s longest day.
Consolation for Townsend was the Eisberg Sprints jersey, Wahooligan Combativity Award and a position second in the general classification thanks to time bonuses, three seconds behind Groenewegen.
“It was an absolutely epic stage,” said Townsend following the finish in Kirkcudbright. “The stage itself it started really hard, it seemed like a lot more people were interested in trying to get away this year, I think maybe just the nature of the course means that people don’t necessarily know what they’re going to get out of the race so maybe there’s a little bit more interest in the breakaway so yeah it took a while to go and then once it was the right formation of riders we were away but it seemed like quite a nervous day, we never got more than a minute forty and for 200 kilometres you’re always sort of looking over your shoulder which is not always too much fun but all in all we’re really happy with the day.
“The Wahooligan combativity is a nice extra bonus, that for me is the icing on the cake because to be voted by the people watching at home is so flattering, really, really nice.”
Jacob Scott led the race over all three SKODA King of the Mountains climbs to take the best climbers jersey, already with a five point advantage on fellow escapee James Fouche.
Stage Two takes in 165 kilometres of the picturesque Scottish Borders, starting and finishing in Kelso’s main cobbled square, passing through Coldstream, Duns and Melrose during the day.