Jose Joaquin Rojas won the opening stage of the 2012 Vuelta al Pais Vasco in Spain on Monday.

Despite being momentary boxed in against the barriers by the stampeding bunch, Rojas (Movistar) slipped past Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) to scoop the win. Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Barracuda) placed third.

Britain’s Luke Rowe (Sky) finished 12th.

The day’s action had been largely dominated by a two-man breakaway. David De La Fuente (Caja Rural) and Davide Mucelli (Utensilnord Named) escaped the peloton 15km after the start in Güeñes. The duo swiftly built up a lead which reached over four minutes at its maximum. 

Having tackled the first six of a total of seven categorised climbs in the stage, De La Fuente and Mucelli were eventually reeled in by the bunch at the bottom of final climb, Alto de San Cosme, 15km from the finish.

The escapees’ efforts didn’t go unrewarded: De La Fuente earned the King
of the Mountains jersey, and Mucelli the sprints jersey.

Despite several concerted attacks in the run-in to Güeñes, the peloton held it together for a sprint finish.

The six-stage WorldTour race, also known as the Tour of the Basque Country, concludes on Saturday April 7 with an 18.9km individual time trial. Between now and then there are plenty of mountains, not least the back-to-back mountain-top finishes on stage three and four.

Tuesday’s stage two is another climb-packed day, with the riders having to tackle six categorised ascents from Güeñes to Vitoria-Gasteiz over 165.7km.

Last year’s race was won by Andreas Kloden (RadioShack).

Results

Vuelta al Pais Vasco 2012, stage one: Güeñes to Güeñes, 153 km


1. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar in 3-57-44

2. Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM

3. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Barracuda

4. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat

5. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale

6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda

7. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto-Belisol

8. Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

9. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana

10. Paolo Bailetti (Ita) Utensilnord Named all same time

Other

12. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky at same time

Overall classification after stage one

1. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar

2. Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM

3. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Barracuda

4. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat

5. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale

6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda

7. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto-Belisol

8. Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

9. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana

10. Paolo Bailetti (Ita) Utensilnord Named all same time