On the first of two stages with uphill finishes, the Istrian Spring Trophy took on a Russian look after Sergey Nikolaev (Itera-Katusha) won the uphill sprint into the old Croatian hill town of Labin ahead of Austrrian Markus Eibegger.
The stage itself was fairly hilly with multiple climbs during the day but the main event was a 5 kilometer climb with the final kilometer being cobblestones and a 10% average over the last 500 meters into Labin. Labin, just miles from the Kvarner Gulf, in itself is pretty interesting in that in 1921 they held an anti-fascist protest and for a little over a month, they created the Labin Republic.
A sickness went through the peloton that took out half of the Tirol team including David Wöhrer, Mario Schoibl and Patrick Bosman along with the Stölting duo of Lennard Kamna and Manuel Porzner.
The final was more or less together with Nikolaev and Eibegger separating themselves on the steep section to take 1st and 2nd. 7 seconds back, it was U23 Michael Gogl (Felbermayr-Simplon) leading home Silvio Herklotz (Stölting) and Marko Kump (Adria Mobil) ahead of a larger group of 10 that were 16 seconds in arrears.
This stage was more of a primer than anything as the 2nd stage to Motovun will really separate the wheat from the chaff. On the GC, Nikolaev and Eibegger are just 6 seconds apart with Gogl only 13 second back. Herklotz, who has 2 year experience with this race already, is just 20 seconds back while dangerous riders like Felix Großschartner and Gregor Mühlberger (Felbermayr-Simplon), Jordi Simon (Ecuador) and Sam Oomen are all within 30 seconds.