Černý formed part of an 11-rider breakaway that went clear after 20 kilometers of racing and quickly grew their advantage to five minutes after 50 kilometers of the 177-kilometer stage.
After the steepest climb of the day, the category one Alto Garapacha, halfway through the stage, the breakaway’s advantage continued to hover around the five-minute mark until a lack of organization in the peloton saw the gap extend to ten minutes inside the final 50 kilometres.
With multiple teams represented at the front of the race and no real chase from behind, the breakaway’s advantage continued to grow to more than 14 minutes after the day’s final climb by which stage, entering the final 30 kilometers, it was clear the stage win would go to the breakaway.
Černý covered all of the moves when the remaining ten riders began to attack each other and despite two riders forging ahead in the final 10 kilometers, the breakaway came back together with five kilometers to go.
Černý positioned himself well approaching the short, but steep, cobbled finish and started his climb in second wheel before eventually crossing the line in third place behind Xandro Meurisse (WGT), who took the stage win, and Adam De Vos (PRT), who finished ahead of the Czech rider.
The peloton rolled across the line more than 16 minutes behind Černý’s group which has the set the stage for an explosive second and final stage of the race, with another four climbs on the cards.
Quotes from the finish line:
“Today, our tactic was to have someone in the breakaway if there was a group of eight or more riders and strong guys. We were trying to get into the move and I had the luck to go at the right moment and get in the breakaway. We all worked well together and everyone continued to work together until the last 20 kilometers or so when there were attacks to try and split the group and drop some riders. In the end, we all came back together in the finale. It was a hectic finale though and when I crossed the line, I had nothing left. It was a hard finish and it came down to who had the legs. I was feeling good though so we will see what happens tomorrow now that the peloton was so far behind us today.”
Piotr Wadecki, Sports Director:
“In the meeting before the race, we decided that Josef Černý was one of three riders who should try to get in the breakaway if teams like Movistar Team, Astana Pro Team, and Bora Hansgrohe were represented. Josef was feeling good all day and as the gap continued to grow, we knew the stage win would come from this group. We knew that Meurisse was strong and the finish was suited to him so Josef just had to do everything he could to stay up there and see how his legs responded, which he did. It will be interesting to see how tomorrow plays out. With teams like Astana and Movistar having their leaders around 16 minutes back, anything could happen. We will see what we can do with Josef in the General Classification.”
Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia
Stage 1: Los Alcázares > Caravaca de la Cruz (177.6km)
Top 3: 1. Xandro Meurisse (Circus – Wanty Gobert), 2. Adam De Vos (Rally Cycling), 3. Josef Černý (CCC Team)
📷 Getty Images