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Casper van Uden (DSM-Firmenich PostNL) scored victory on the opening stage of the AlUla Tour at Al Manshiya Train Station, edging to the line in a close bunch sprint finish just ahead of Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) and Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep).
22-year-old Van Uden was the first of the fastmen to hit the front in the sprint at the end of the 149km stage, jumping into the wind after UAE Team Emirates had set up a lead-out in the final kilometre.
Behind him, Groenewegen found himself boxed in, while Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE Team Emirates) couldn’t take advantage of Ivo Oliveira’s lead out and Søren Wærenskjold (Uno-X Mobility) didn’t quite have the speed to get clear.
Groenewegen found some space late on to burst through, but he couldn’t make up enough ground to pass Van Uden, instead having to settle for second by a quarter of a wheel. Just behind them, Merlier pipped Wærenskjold to third place by an even smaller margin.
Van Uden pulls on the first leader’s green jersey of the race thanks to the 10-second bonus at the finish, though a hilly finish on stage 2 means leadership is likely to swap hands at Sharaan Nature Reserve.
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