Stage 1 Castelo de Vida to Marvão
The first stage of the Volta ao Alentejo was perhaps the most important for the General Classification as this was the only hilltop finish of the race and only one of two stages that had any sort of hills to deal with. A group of 12 got away immediately after the start in Castelo de Vida but were brought back after the first sprint in Crato, which was taken by Louis Verhelst (Etixx-iHNed). After 35 kilometers, Florian Senechal (Etixx-iHNed) attacked and was soon joined by André Mourato (LA Aluminium) and Antoine Duchesne (Bontrager-Livestrong). 10 kilometers later, Scott Zwizanski (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits), Illart Zuazubiskar (Euskadi) and Henrique Casimiro (Carmine-Tavira) bridged up to make it a group of six. The group quickly got a big lead of 10 minutes on the peloton before the peloton began their chase. Mourato and Zwizanski both won sprints in Monforte and Degolados respectively but this was minor compared to the impending hills before the finish.
The pace was fierce during the race as over the first 3 hours the average speed was 42 kph. As the breakaway began the first climb, Zwizanski, Senechal and Mourato pulled away from their break mates and pushed on, with Senechal taking first over the climb. Three riders bridged to the leading trio on the descent but it was all for naught as the peloton bared down on them. In the end, Daniel Silva (Radio Popular-Onda) broke away on the final climb and finished 2 seconds ahead of a select group to take the win and overall leaders jersey.
- Daniel Silva (Radio Popular-Onda)
- Karel Hnik (Etixx-iHNed) +2
- Eduard Prades (OFM) +3
- Chad Haga (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits) +4
- Alejandro Marque (OFM) +5
- Delio Fernandez (OFM) s.t.
- Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager-Livestrong) s.t.
- Daniel Mestre (Tavira) +6
- Arkaitz Duran (Epafel Glass Drive) s.t.
- Carlos Barbero (Euskadi) +7
- Patrick Konrad (Etixx-iHNed) +10
I am very impressed with Etixx-iHNed. They rode an attacking race with Verhelst and Senechal and then on the final climb, Hnik and Konrad had great performances. Chad Haga, in only his first year on the continental level with Optum, really pulled out all the stops for 4th. Stuyven and Barbero both rode well for their teams and should keep high overall places through the week.