Greipel wins the first european race of the season

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) continued his tradition of getting his seasons off to a winning start as he won his first race of the year, Trofeo Felanitx-Ses Salines-Campos-Porreres which is the first race in the four-day Challenge Mallorca series. At the end of the first race on European soil, he held off Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) in the expected bunch sprint to get his year off to a perfect start.

The event was dominated by a three-rider break of Grischa Janorschke (Roth), Domingos Goncalves (Caja Rural) and Eneko Lizarralde (Euskadi) but Lotto Soudal always had a Greipel win in mind. The Belgian team controlled the entire race and after IAM also came to the fore to work for Jonas Van Genechten, the break was quickly brought back after 140km of the 176.8km race. Lotto Soudal and IAM disappeared from the front and instead it was a big fight for position as the teams got organized and prepared themselves for the two late climbs that featured close to the finish

There was a bit of attacking on the first of those ascents where Garikoitz Bravo led his Euskadi teammate Imanol Estevez and Janorschke over the top. Five kilometres later Xavi Cañellas (Spain) made a brave solo move and impressively he held a 30-second advantage just fifteen kilometres from the finish.

At the special sprint after 167km of racing, he still had an advantage of 28 seconds but just 2km later he was back in the fold. That set the scene for an attack from several riders, including Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural), on the final climb but it was a move by Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale) four kilometres from the finish that looked most promising.

Slagter led Stybar over the top, followed by Gregory Rast (Trek) but it was all in vain as the break was caught with three kilometres to go. Instead, it came down to the expected bunch sprint and here Greipel lived up to expectations as he easily held off Sam Bennett and Edvald Boasson Hagen to open his 2016 account. Goncalves won the combination and classifications while Janorschke was the most combative and Lizarralde won the mountains competition

The race series will continue tomorrow when the riders head into hillier terrain for the Trofeo Pollenca-Andratx. However, the final comes 30km from the finish which gives room for riders to get things organized for a reduced bunch sprint.