Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) took his third win of the season after crossing the line first at the end of the fifth and final stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (2.HC).
The Belgian had been a member of a breakaway which got away early on the 151.5-kilometre stage from Setenil de las Bodegas (Cádiz) to Coín (Málaga).
Joining Wellens in the break were seven others – Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi), Domen Novak (Bahrain Merida), Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nick Van Der Lijke (Roompot), Simon Clarke (Cannondale) and Maciej Paterski (CCC).
The escapees gained more than six minutes advantage and despite the efforts of the peloton to close the gap, they were unable to.
Bravo and Minnaard were dropped from the break leaving six riders to fight for the win. Wellens was fastest at the finish to continue a successful start to the season, having already won Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana (1.1) and Trofeo Andratx-Mirador des Colomer (1.1).
Tim Wellens: “There was a lot of headwind in the beginning of the stage. Everyone was attentive and nervous. Still, we could get away with eight on an uphill section. We had to ride very hard to build a sufficient lead. When the gap rose from four to six minutes I believed we would battle for the stage win. In the finale I tried to get rid of the others, but my attempt was unsuccessful.”
“With twenty kilometres to go we had three minutes advantage left, a big enough margin. In the break we were all scared of each other. Everyone was looking at the others and no one could get away. I started sprinting at two hundred metres from the finish. Beforehand, I wasn’t certain at all that I would win the sprint, but it was actually pretty convincing. I like it more to win this way than to finish solo. If I can choose it can be exciting.”
“I know the area where we rode very well because I rented a house in Torremolinos last year and trained a lot on these roads. It’s nice to win here now. Last season I won four times. Now it’s half February and I have already won three races. I had never expected that a few weeks ago. My next goal will be Strade Bianche on 4 March. It’s the first time that I will take part in that race, but I believe that I can set a nice result.”