Hilly first stage of Valenciana wakes up the legs for TNN

31 January 2024

A tough and hilly opening stage of the Volta a la Valenciana let the riders know that the 2024 season was well and truly underway with Team Novo Nordisk digging in as the climbs took their toll in the final third.

A heavily reduced bunch split further on the last climb as it tried in vain to chase down the remaining riders from the day’s early breakaway, but to no avail as the stage win had already gone by the time what was left of the peloton sprinted for the minor placings.

Sport director Gennady Mikhaylov:

“It’s our first race of the season here at the Volta a la Valenciana and one of our main objectives is for the guys to get some race rhythm in their legs and we knew that it would be a tough start for us, especially over the tough hilly terrain.”

“A lot of the bunch have been racing for at least a fortnight and have a bit of a headstart on us, but with the first stage out of the way now we can look to settle in a little more tomorrow and get up the road in the breakaway.”

Matyas Kopecky:

“I think it’s fair to say that today’s first stage definitely woke the legs up! We knew it was going to be tough – first races always are! Filippo tried to make it into the break early on, but his move was brought back and then the next time a group went it ended up being the one that the stage win came from.”

“We would have found it hard going whether we had made it into the break or not today, it was a tough stage with the climbs and we know that’s it about getting racing on our legs here and some of the intensity that you cannot get in training. I hung on as long as I could in the bunch until part way up the last climb, but the chase was heating up behind the leaders and as the pace cranked up another notch I dropped and rode tempo over the top and finished alongside David and Nathan.

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