World champion Elisa Balsamo took her first victory in the rainbow jersey, sprinting to victory from a reduced bunch to win the opening stage of the Volta Comunitat Valenciana Femines.
Now in the colours of Trek-Segafredo, Balsamo was provided with an excellent leadout from new teammate and compatriot Elisa Longo Borghini.
A strong group of three, including defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten, had broken away in the final 20 kilometres but were reeled in, allowing Balsamo to capitalise and take an early-season victory.
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The opening stage in Spain was held over 114km, with a couple of climbs in the final 20 kilometres, including a tricky category two ascent before a drop down into the finishing site of Gandia.
Erica Magnaldi escaped from the bunch on her own, but the UAE Team ADQ rider knew she was fighting a futile battle to stay away.
The action kicked off in earnest just before the beginning of the 4th category Alto de Barxeta, with Naomi De Roeck establishing a gap, but unable to break the elastic.
The significantly larger Alto de Barx, a 6km ascent with gradients touching more than 8%, looked a likelier fracture point, and so it proved as the peloton split, with Longo Borghini among those initially caught out. A powerful group of Marta Cavalli, Mavi Garcia and Van Vleuten burst away from the bunch.
Garcia took the points at the top of the Alto de Barx, following teammate Magnaldi's lead after she had swept up the intermediate sprint and early Queen of the Mountains points on a good day for the Emirati outfit.
But slowly the lead triumvirate were reeled in, first by a trio including Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and then a larger group of sprinters and support riders, with Trek-Segafredo particularly prominent through Ellen van Dijk.
And though Australian rising star Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) pushed hard and took a fine second place, there was no matching the world champion in the final metres, with Balsamo taking the stage victory and the race leader's jersey.

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The four-stage race continues tomorrow with a curiously constructed stage from Altea to Concentaina.
A first category ascent of the Alto de Confrides could break up the race in the opening 40 kilometres, but it may again be a day contested by a sprint for the line.
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