Joao Almeida won the first stage at the Tour de Luxembourg, which got underway Tuesday afternoon with a short and hilly 140km stage that culminated in a reduced bunch sprint.

An interminable succession of climbs awaited the peloton, who decided to allow a six-man group to build a maximum gap of four minutes after rolling out from the country’s capital.

Deceuninck–Quick-Step reeled in some late attacks before bringing Almeida to the front as the road began rising ahead of the flamme rouge, and the 23-year-old patiently waited for the finishing straight before bursting clear from his opponents, courtesy of a truly ferocious sprint unleashed 200 meters from the line that brought him his fifth victory of the season.

“It was a very hard stage, and to be truthful, I didn’t feel great, but I had a strong team around me who did an amazing job, chasing the escapees and protecting me throughout the day. I knew that if I had the legs, the uphill finish would suit me. I played it smart there and I’m happy I could pull it off. Donning the yellow jersey is a nice bonus, but we won’t think of the GC just yet, and instead continue to take it day by day and see how things go”, said Almeida.

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