The Luxembourg champion made his debut for Etixx – Quick-Step and came 7th in the first stage of the Spanish race.
Back in the calendar for the first time in 8 years, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana gave the time trialists a chance to shine on the inaugural day of the 67th edition, on a rolling 16.2-km long course between Benicassim and Oropesa del Mar, not far off the Mediterranean coast. The honours went to Wout Poels (Sky) – one of the early starters on Wednesday – who finished in 22:34, 15 seconds ahead of home favourite Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and 21 seconds better than teammate Vasil Kiryienka.
Among the last Etixx – Quick-Step riders to roll down the start ramp, Bob Jungels rode strong in his first race of the season and managed to get inside the top 10 at the end of the stage, a nice result considering this was his first day at the office since Clasica San Sebastian. The 23-year-old was 7th at the finish, less than half a minute adrift, with two other teammates concluding the race in the top 20: Yves Lampaert (15th, +0:36) and Niki Terpstra (17th, +0:37). Also riding in Spain was seven-time Monument winner Tom Boonen, who returned to racing after his crash in the Abu Dhabi Tour, last October.
Stage 2 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (Castellon – Alto de Fredes, 163.3 kilometers) will certainly shake up the general classification, as it will see the peloton finish on a long first-category climb with a 12% maximum gradient.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele