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by Shane Stokes
February 1, 2018
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Having transferred from Team Sky to LottoNL-Jumbo over the winter, Danny van Poppel didn’t have a long wait to take his first win for the Dutch squad: in fact, he did so at the first possible opportunity, crossing the line hands aloft in his first race of the season.
The Dutchman blazed home on stage one of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, beating Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott), Jurgen Roelandts (BMC Racing), Dan McLay (EF Education First-Drapac) and the rest of the bunch into Peñiscola.
“I was very nervous at the start of the race, because everything is new; the team, the teammates, but everything immediately fell into place,” he said. “The lead-out was perfect. I am very happy with this victory. Before, I had put my mind to this stage and to the last [one] of this stage race.”
A bunch sprint was anticipated but four riders nevertheless tried to beat the odds. Paco Mancebo (Inteja DCT) was the instigator, going clear and then being joined by Paul Ourselin (Direct Energie), Ibai Salas (Burgos BH) and Jose Manuel Diaz (Israel Cycling Academy). Their maximum lead stretched to five minutes, but they were eventually gobbled up with 17 kilometres remaining.
A crash then gave Team Sky’s Gianni Moscon a gap, which he fought to hold until the finish. However he was reeled in close to the line, enabling van Poppel to blitz the field in the sprint. The race continues on Thursday with a tougher 153.9 kilometre race to Albuixech.