Rune Herregodts pounced from a breakaway to take victory in the opening stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol.
The Belgian was part of an eight-rider group that was allowed to build up a significant advantage by the peloton, a gap that eventually proved unassailable.
Thanks to a cohesive, considered effort from a largely unheralded octet, the breakaway were able to ensure that it would be the remaining six members of their party to contest the win up a devilish final 1500m into the town of Iznajar.
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And 23-year-old Herregodts had the strongest legs, mouth wide with delight as he sealed a significant victory.
'Everyone did their job' - Herregodts hails work of group on Stage 1
"It was a difficult day to go away," the Sport Vallanderen-Baloise rider explained afterwards. "But it was a large group, which is ideal.
I didn't go to hard at the start, the Belgians gave us a good margin.
"The cooperation was great. Nobody skipped their turns. The last climb, everyone tried to go alone but there were three or four guys who were quite equal. I know after a hard day I can ride quite well so I trusted my sprint. It was great to be with two teammates in the break. It was really a team effort.
"It's a very important victory. It's quite a good field. We are very happy to take a stage here at quite a prestigious race for our team."
Herregodts ended his 2021 season with a solo victory at the Ronde van Drenthe in the Netherlands, and is a rider of burgeoning profile.
He beat Stephen Bassett (Human Powered Health) and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) up the last ramp, with British EOLO-Kometa rider Mark Christian finishing sixth.
Ruta del Sol Stage 1 Highlights - Herregodts takes win on first stage
Behind Christian came Allessandro Covi, with the potential general classification contender recognising an opportunity to steal a handful of seconds on potential rivals.
Also among the top ten were Covi's UAE Team Emirates colleague Matteo Trentin and Benoit Cosnefroy of AG2R Citroen, while Simon Yates finished 11th.
Stage 2 is a 150.6km run from Archidona to Akcala la Real.
Ineos Grenadiers' Ethan Hayter took victory in the town in last year's edition of the five-stage race.
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