Rojas makes early mark
Luke Rowe takes 12th place for Team Sky in Basque Country
Last Updated: 02/04/12 8:36pm
José Joaquín Rojas: Perfectly-timed sprint saw him land the spoils in Guenes
José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) sprinted to an impressive victory on the opening stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Rojas recovered well after being short of room next to the barriers, getting up on the line to see off Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Barracuda) in Guenes.
The six-day WorldTour race, which takes place in the Basque Country, began with a 153 kilometres stage around Guenes which featured no fewer than seven categorised climbs.
However the only first category test came before the halfway mark and the peloton stayed largely intact after that to reel in an early break.
David De la Fuente (Caja Rural) and Davide Mucelli (Utensilnord - Named) had gone clear 15km into the day and at one point had an advantage of cover five minutes but in the final third of the stage the gap tumbled rapidly.
It was less than a minute with 24km to go and the catch came before the final climb of the Alto de San Cosme which was crested with 10km remaining.
Several riders tried to chip off the front in the closing stages but it was all together again heading under the flamme rouge and it was Rojas who proved strongest in the sprint.
He will wear the leader's yellow jersey in Tuesday's second stage to Vitoria-Gasteiz which should be another one for the sprinters before the focus switches to the climbers.
De la Fuente's efforts saw him top the mountains classification while breakaway companion Mucelli will sport the white points jersey.
Youngster Luke Rowe was the first Team Sky rider home in 12th place, with Davide Appollonio in 21st.