Ruben Zepuntke wins Stage 1 of Tour of Alberta
German posts winning time of 3 hours 18.03 seconds in rain, cold
Ruben Zepuntke of Germany won the Tour of Alberta's first stage in a group sprint to the line Wednesday in Lethbridge.
Zepuntke edged a swarm that included Canadian Ryan Anderson in a photo finish in downtown Lethbridge. Zepuntke looked around and postponed his celebration until he was sure of his victory.
The 21-year-old Bissell Development team rider posted a winning time of three hours 18.03 seconds over the 143-kilometre race.
Anderson was seven-hundredths of a second out of a victory in third. The 27-year-old Optum Pro rider from Edmonton claimed the Maple Leaf jersey as the top Canadian.
"With the cold weather today, I personally went through different phases," said Anderson in a statement released by Cycling Canada. "At first I was feeling very well on the first lap, then I got really cold after the second lap. My teammates rallied ... and did a great job to bring me some clothing. I started to warm up and feel better."
Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands retained the yellow leader's jersey thanks to a dominant prologue victory Tuesday in Calgary. The Giant-Shimano rider had a six-second cushion on Zepuntke, who jumped from 14th to second in the overall classification.
Serghei Tetcov of Romania was third and 14 seconds back of Dumoulin. Anderson moved to seventh overall at 19 seconds behind, while Christian Meier of Sussex, N.B., trailed by 23 seconds in ninth.
The 737 km stage race concludes Sunday in Edmonton.
Wednesday's first stage featured six laps through Lethbridge. The 117 riders raced in wet, cool conditions the entire leg and most wore gloves and rain jackets.
The trio of Mathew Hayman of Australia, Robin Carpenter of the U.S., and Nathan Van Hooydonck of Belgium opened a gap of over four minutes on the peloton after two laps. But Van Hooydonck dropped back in the third lap, while Hayman and Carpenter were swallowed up on the final circuit.
Thursday's second stage is a 145 km ride from Innisfail to Red Deer with a two-lap detour around Sylvan Lake.
Friday's Stage 3 is 157 km from Wetaskiwin to CFB Edmonton via Fort Saskatchewan. The riders will hit some gravel patches on Saturday's 163k leg from Edmonton into Sherwood Park.
The final stage is 11 laps of an 11 km loop through downtown Edmonton.
With files from CBCSports.ca