(Reuters) - Bora-Hansgrohe’s Felix Grossschartner surged past the rest of the field on the final climb to win the opening stage of the Vuelta a Burgos on Tuesday as the cycling season resumed after a four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first major race since Paris-Nice in March, the Austrian rider attacked with 700 metres remaining to finish eight seconds clear of Joao Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) in second and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who finished third.
“I’m super happy,” said Grossschartner. “I checked the parcours yesterday and I saw it wasn’t a bad finish for me.
“I went full gas and said, what can happen? If they catch me, they catch me. It’s always better to be in front than to have to chase.”
Jumbo-Visma rider Gijs Leemreize was forced to drop out of the stage after he suffered a finger injury in a horror crash with around 50 kilometres remaining.
"Gijs is in the hospital, where the plastic surgeon will restore his damaged fingertip in the best possible way tonight," the team posted on Twitter here. "Gijs is doing okay given the circumstances."
Team Israel Start-Up Nation suffered a setback before the start of the race as they withdrew two riders due to coronavirus concerns.
Alex Dowsett and Itamar Einhorn were pulled out after the latter came in contact with team mate Omer Goldstein, who is not competing in Burgos but returned a positive test this week.
A few hours into the race, Israel Start-Up Nation confirmed both riders are “perfectly healthy” and that Einhorn’s test had come back negative.
“Although I am pained to see the riders miss the race, we had to avoid any risk and take this extreme precautionary measure as the tests results were not available in time,” Oscar Guerrero, the team’s sports director, said in a statement.
“It’s very unfortunate. I really feel for the riders.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis
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