The opening stage of the 2023 Tour of Valencia was won by Biniam Girmay on Wednesday. After almost 190 kilometers, the leader of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty was the fastest in the bunch sprint in the streets of Altea. Girmay, one of the rising stars in cycling, is also the first overall leader of the Spanish stage race.Immediately after the start of the stage, five ProTeam riders broke away, including Ward Vanhoof from Flanders-Baloise. He got the Spaniards Hector Carretero (Equipo Kern Pharma), Xabier Isasa (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and the Italian Riccardo Lucca (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizane).
Jumbo Visma and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
Jumbo-Visma and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty immediately took control. They kept the lead of the five leaders at around three minutes. Incidentally, Mikkel Bjerg of UAE Emirates was missing from the peloton, because he was unable to start in Orihuela due to illness. On the program were the Coll de Rates (14.1 km at 2.9%) and the climb to Bernia (10.9 km at 3.8%), but some teams still had confidence in their sprinters.
Kooij holds his ground, Kristoff does not
On the Coll de Rates, the peloton got closer and closer to the escapees, where Carretero proved to be the best climber. However, the Spaniard could not prevent himself from being caught by the peloton at the top of the climb, where Bahrain Victorious, BORA-hansgrohe and UAE Emirates had also reported in the lead.m It went too fast for Alexander Kristoff, the Uno-X sprinter had been released on the Rates and had to chase on the Bernia. Jumbo-Visma’s sprint leader climbed better than Kristoff; Olav Kooij struggled with the pace of Bahrain Victorious on the last climb of the day, but was still hanging on at the top. After that it was another 35 kilometers in a largely descending line towards Altea.
Biniam Girmay surprises Olav Kooij
Jumbo-Visma took control again in the last flat kilometers. Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) opted for the attack in the last ten kilometers, but he was caught by the thinned peloton three kilometers before the finish. The sprint was then started by the trains of Jumbo-Visma, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty and Movistar. Kooij was dropped by Tosh Van der Sande in the wheel of Iván García, but that turned out not to be the right wheel for the Dutch favorite. On the other side of the road, Biniam Girmay had started his sprint early. The puncheur from Eritrea made a gap on the slightly uphill finish and surprised Kooij, who finished second. Movistar opted for a time-honored tactic and finished third, fourth and fifth in the day result.