Großschartner Springs Surprise As Cycling Returns

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After almost five months without competitive cycling due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Vuelta a Burgos marked the resumption of the season on Tuesday with Austria's Felix Großschartner winning the opening stage in Spain.

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The 26-year-old Bora-Hansgrohe rider left rivals trailing on the final climb, his late burst toward the hilltop observatory above Burgos saw him finish eight seconds clear of Alejandro Valverde in third, and 10sec ahead of Belgian favourite Remco Evenepoel in 10th.

Großschartner said the windy conditions in the open fields around Burgos had suited him and left him fresh for the final steep kilometre.

"I like the wind a lot," he said, after finishing in 3hrs 40min and 21sec.

"It wasn't so hot and that was good for me."

The winner also said he had been heartened to see spectators in the pretty pink-tiled and whitewashed villages along the route.

"We saw some spectators along the route and at the finish and this was good."

Professional cycling ground to a halt in mid-March, with the last top-level race the Paris-Nice, which saw the final stage cancelled.

On Tuesday Israel SN pulled out riders Itamar Einhorn and Alex Dowsett as a precaution as they had been in contact with an asymptomatic but Coronavirus positive teammate.

This year's Vuelta a Burgos features a strong peloton, with riders preparing for a hectic run of prestigious events, with the three Grand Tours to be held in quick succession due to the COVID-19 outbreak.h

At the blustery awards ceremony there were no fans, but plenty of hand gel, face masks and latex gloves.

It made for a nervy affair bereft of handshakes, with organisers of the upcoming Grand Tours watching with interest.

The race culminates on Saturday and continues with a flat run Wednesday likely to suit the sprinters.

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