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"The season couldn’t have started better. After winning the GP La Marseillaise it’s my second victory of the season. With the big crash at four kilometres from the end there were only twenty riders left in front."

Photo: Lotto Soudal

LOTTO SOUDAL

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PIM LIGTHART

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VUELTA A ANDALUCIA

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18.02.2015 @ 20:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

This afternoon Pim Ligthart won the first stage of the Ruta del Sol. It was his second win of 2015, after his victory in the GP la Marseillaise, and the fourth one of Lotto Soudal. The final kilometres were hectic with big crashes. Pim was the only Lotto Soudal rider who wasn’t involved in those crashes. He became the first GC leader.

 

The first stage took the riders from La Rábida to Hinojo over a distance of 118.3 kilometres. The peloton started slowly and let four riders get away. Teams like Tinkoff – Saxo, Giant – Alpecin and Movistar controlled the gap and the leaders never had an advantage of more three minutes. With less than forty kilometres to go the escapees were reeled in, the sign for Sander Helven to attack. He couldn’t stay ahead either and a compact bunch rode towards the finish in Hinojo. But two big crashes inside the final ten kilometres caused splits in the peloton. Six Lotto Soudal riders were involved. Only Pim Ligthart was still on his bike, he attacked and won. That’s how he became the first leader in this 61st edition of the Ruta del Sol.

 

“Of course I’m happy," he said. "The season couldn’t have started better. After winning the GP La Marseillaise it’s my second victory of the season. With the big crash at four kilometres from the end there were only twenty riders left in front. I looked around and saw that the sprinters were isolated. I jumped at the right moment, took twenty metres and didn’t look behind me until the finish line.”

 

“It’s bad news that I’m the only one who escaped the big crash. The other six riders of our team crashed or had to stop. We can forget about any GC ambitions. We’ll see what the damage is and then we have to change our tactics. Tomorrow and Sunday there might be more sprint opportunities.”

 

“Louis Vervaeke probably has a concussion," Servaas Bingé, team doctor Lotto Soudal, said. "It was impossible for him to start in the time trial. The others only have abrasions and bruises. Tim Wellens, Jurgen Van den Broeck and Maxime Monfort have the least consequences. We have to wait and see how the situation evolves for Jelle Vanendert and Bart De Clercq. Bart has a sore knee and elbow. Probably there will be more tests later tonight to rule out any possible fractures.”

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