Frenchman Jonathan Hivert won the first stage of the Tour of Andalusia on Monday, a 164km ride from San Fernando to Ubrique.
The 27-year-old — who is in top form having won France’s first professional race of the season the Etoile de Besseges earlier this month — prevailed in a sprint finish ahead of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and Dutchman Bauke Mollema.
Movistar rider Valverde retained the overall lead, holding a seven second advantage over Belgium’s Jurgen Van den Broeck and Mollema, who is a further four seconds back, after the Spaniard won Sunday’s prologue.
Hivert is eighth overall and 25 seconds off the lead.
Katusha win appeal
Cycling’s World Tour will feature 19 teams this season, instead of 18, after Russian cycling team Katusha won their appeal to be reinstated, the sport’s world governing body UCI announced on Monday.
“Exceptionally there are 19 registered UCI ProTeams in the 2013 season,” a UCI statement read. “The decision comes further to the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] ruling of 15 February 2013 which upheld the application of Katusha Management SA to be registered as a UCI ProTeam for the season 2013.”
Katusha won its appeal to the CAS after being excluded from the circuit in December, leaving them at the mercy of the organizers of the major Tours as to whether they are invited to compete or not.
The CAS initially upheld the ruling last month, but overturned that decision on appeal on Friday.
The controversial team, who count last year’s World Tour champion Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain and Russia’s Denis Menchov in their ranks, is run by Russia’s Viacheslav Ekimov, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong.
In November the Association of Race Organisers warned it would only consider handing out invitations to teams which had signed up to the anti-doping charter — the Movement for Credible Cycling.
Katusha had been refused a wild-card entry to this year’s Giro d’Italia as they had not signed up for the Movement, but they have since done so as a probationary member.