Garmin-Transitions rider Robbie Hunter took the first stage of the Tour of Murcia in Spain today, in a sprint finish edging out Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Vicente Reynes (HTC-Columbia) for the win.
Stage 1 also saw the return of Lance Armstrong to the European peloton; his first race in Europe since his 2010 season debut at the Tour down Under in Australia. Armstrong did not contest the sprint and finished safely in the field (46th), saying that Saturday’s time trial would be a better opportunity for him to test his legs.
Wednesday’s 166.5 km stage had three categorized climbs, with a 4 man break forming early after American Danny Pate (Garmin-Transitions) tested the field and was joined by three other riders; Alexander Blain (Endura), RubÃƒÂ©n Reig (Caja Rural), and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil).
The field was able to keep the break, after gaining nearly five minutes at one point,Ã‚Â around 2-3 minutes out for most of the race before finally shutting it down after the final climb, leading to the group sprint finish.
The photo above is from cycling photographer Graham Watson; you can see a full photo gallery from today’s stage by Watson on his site here. Stay tuned to BikeRumor for more stage reports from Murcia.