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Volta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia. Stage 1. Nikita Stalnov is 6th, takes lead in mountain classification

The Kazakh rider Nikita Stalnov showed a great form today at the first stage of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia with the finish in Caravaca de la Cruz. Stalnov became one of the most active riders in the daily breakaway, winning all three climbs of the day and as result, taking the red jersey of the best mountain rider. In the final uphill sprint Stalnov finished 6th, 20 seconds behind the stage winner Xandro Meurisse. 

- I am happy with the stage and my performance. In the final I did all I could, but this short and super steep explosive climb doesn’t suit me at all. But, I think, I did a good stage, I felt very well today, and it was nice to take the lead in the mountain classification. When we realized that the peloton won’t catch us, we started thinking about a stage victory. There were many attacks in our group, I also was active, I was trying to invent something before finish. It did not work out, but everything is still open in this race. For the moment, I am just happy to be in this good form at the start of the season, - said Nikita Stalnov.

- Nikita was strong today and we have to be happy with the way he spent this day. We knew the final won’t suit him, so he tried to attack for many times before to escape and to get a small advantage before the final steep climb. Well, he finished 6th today, but the general classification is still in play. Tomorrow is another super hard day in the mountains, and we will try to do something, - added Alexandr Shefer, sports director of Astana Pro Team.

Shortly after the start in Los Alcazares it was Astana’s Daniil Fominykh, who launched the first attack. Once he was caught back a group of riders went away with Nikita Stalnov among the attackers. Very quickly this group opened a solid gap and after some attempts to organize chasing the peloton gave up. 

Nikita Stalnov won all three climbs in the menu of the stage, moving into the lead in the mountain classification. After a number of attacks inside the breakaway at the final 30 km of racing, finally, the escapers came all together to the last kilometer, playing the stage victory in a powerful uphill sprint.

Stage 2 of the race will be held tomorrow: 179.6 km from Santomera to Murcia with 4 climbs in the route.

Photo credit: © Getty Images

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