Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ) was triumphant on the opening stage of the 72nd edition Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, with the South Australian claiming his first win at ProSeries level, and his first victory for Groupama-FDJ.
The Australian rider managed to finish off a 20-kilometre solo towards Ondara, and did it despite a crash in the last moments of the race. Scotson was the winner, thirty seconds ahead of a small bunch and will take the yellow leader’s jersey into the remaining three stages of competition.
The 170-kilometre hilly route from Elche to Ondara saw a much-reduced peloton tackling the final stages, with Scotson timing his attack from the rear of the group perfectly, flying clear of his rivals for the stage. The attack came after a few surges from Groupama-FDJ teammate Stefan Kung and Scotson himself, before the assault that saw him go free.
Up front, Miles Scotson first got rid of a Movistar rider and then quickly made a gap on what was left of the main group. The bunch had been sapped off much of its power and there wasn’t an organised chase immediately from behind which proved fatal to the chaser’s chances of success, with Kung disrupting the pursuit from within the bunch.
Scotson had stretched his advantage out to over 40 seconds with just over three kilometres left to ride, but crashed going through a roundabout on the slippery roads. He remounted quickly and got going, but saw a fair amount of his advantage wiped off. Thankfully, Scotson appeared unharmed, there was no damage to his bike and he was able to take the win solo, claiming victory by 28 seconds over the main bunch led home by John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal).
“After the last climb, I thought Stefan could probably win solo today,” Scotson said. “Originally, I thought I’d wait for the sprint, but there was Degenkolb in the group. I thought I was going to attack, and if I was caught, Stefan could go. Actually, my move stayed away”.
“With ten kilometers to go, I was pretty sure I was going to win, but I started thinking too much for the overall, taking as many seconds as I could.mIn the end, I threw away a lot of seconds just by trying to not break too much in a roundabout”.
Scotson confirmed that he wasn’t injured in the crash, more concerned about the condition of his bike.
“It was really slippery today, it probably hadn’t rained here in a while,” he said. “I was happy that the bike was ok and that I could still get the win”.
Scotson now holds the race lead by 32 seconds over Degenkolb thanks to time bonuses on the line, but will need all that advantage if he wishes to hold the lead all the way to the race finish near the picteresque sands of Platja d’Almenara, just north of Valencia.
“I’m super happy,” he said at the finish. “We came here to win a stage with Arnaud. I didn’t expect to win one myself, but I had good legs and took the opportunity.”
Scotson will have to navigate a summit finish to Dos Aguas on Stage 3 (7.4 kms at 5 per cent) but the flat, 14-kilometre time trial to finish will give the powerful Australian a chance to show his power over the specialist climbers.