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Magnus Sheffield stormed to a solo victory at the Ruta del Sol.
The 19-year-old American countered an attack out of the 30-strong front split at around one kilometer to go and surged clear to score his debut pro win, just seven days into his race career with Ineos Grenadiers.
Simon Clarke (Israel Premier Tech) beat Stan Dewulf (Ag2r-Citroën) in the sprint for second, a handful of seconds back on Sheffield.
Overnight race-leader Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) finished in the front group to retain his yellow jersey one more day. The Italian now sits eight-seconds up on closest GC rival Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Qazaqstan).
The victory makes for a major moment in Sheffield’s young career.
The Pittsford native – who placed third behind U.S. teammate Quinn Simmons in the 2019 junior worlds – was short of racing in his last year in the American junior system in 2020 and then saw little action last year with Rally Cycling.
Sheffield had started his 2022 season strong at the Etoile de Besseges last week and went one step further with his daring late attack Friday.
1st pro victory: ✅
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) February 18, 2022
The peloton had started the stage looking a little slimmer Friday.
Both Human Powered Health and Gazprom RusVelo did not start due to coronavirus bursting their bubbles in just the latest example of Omicron playing havoc with 2022 racing.
The all-Spanish breakaway of Jon Barrenetxea (Caja Rural), Juan Antonio López-Cózar (Burgos BH), and Euskaltel-Euskadi duo Ibabi Azurmendi and Xabier Isasa didn’t look in with a chance of making the finish line through the tough, lumpy route as a flat-downhill finish bode well for the bunch.
Azurmendi and Isasa were last-men standing when the attacks kick-started out of the peloton on the final climb of the day at 32km to go.
Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroen), and Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) were among the first to throw haymakers, catching the Euskaltel pair and forcing a selection of around three dozen as Sheffield and four of his Ineos teammates made the split.
The front group of GC hopes kept on attacking each other through the long run toward the Otura suburb of Granada. Ineos Grenadiers kept pushing with Ben Turner and Eddie Dunbar as Sheffield kept sheltered further back.
Bahrain-Victorious, Ineos, and Astana eventually committed to keeping the escape clear from the charging chase bunch after some 15km of start-stop aggression in the lead group.
A crash at 2.5km to go briefly caused confusion at the front of the action, but Sheffield made his way through and kept well-positioned toward the front of those that stayed upright.
Kämna kicked things off with his surge at 1,700 meters to go, but Sheffield darted straight across to the German and dropped him like a stone before soloing to his debut pro victory.
— Radio Marca Granada (@rmarcagranada) February 18, 2022
The Ruta continues with a mountainous stage into Baza on Saturday.
Ruta del Sol stage 3
- Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers): 3:54:37
- Simon Clarke (Israel Premier Tech): at :03
- Stan Dewulf (Ag2r-Citroën): at s.t..
2022 Ruta del Sol General Classification
- Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates): 13:09:41
- Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Qazaqstan): at :08
- Simon Clarke (Israel Premier Tech): at :10