Hofland Wins Stage 1 of Tour of Utah
Moreno Hofland (Team Belkin - Linksys) won the first stage of the 2014 Tour of Utah on Monday. Hofland won a bunch sprint across the finish line and took the overall race lead in the process.
22-year-old Hofland sustained severe injuries from a harsh crash in the Tour of California in May. The young Dutchman broke several ribs and suffered a fracture in his lower back vertebrae. In Utah, he returned to competitive racing and finished the 182.6 kilometer stage 1 from Cedar City to Cedar City in 04:51:12 ahead of SmartStop Pro Cycling's Jure Kocjan and Andrea Palini of Team Lampre-Merida.
"It's fantastic to win straight away," explained Hofland, who had a strong spring before his crash and even won a stage in Paris-Nice and finished second in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. "After my crash, I had to miss several races, which I had to watch on television. The people here know that I was out for a long time and they're very enthusiastic. I've been looking forward to this for a long time and I'm just super happy to race again. I'm very proud of the team. They did a great job today."
"Our goal was to win the stage with Moreno today," Team Belkin - Linksys Sports Director Erik Dekker commented. "We wanted no more than five riders in the break, so that we could control the attack and eventually, exactly five men escaped, so that was fine."
Dekker praised the work of the entire team afterwards. "Maarten Tjallingii and Martijn Tusveld rode at the front all day long and allowed the breakaway group no more than a 3.5 minute lead. In the stage final, Martijn Keizer and Wilco Kelderman also contributed and in the last two kilometers, the sprint train with Jetse Bol, Dennis van Winden and Robert Wagner finished the job together with Moreno. It was a true team effort. The men executed the plan perfectly."
Tour of Utah leader Hofland will start Tuesday's second stage in the yellow jersey, but he's not fixated on defending the jersey. "The stage 2 ride is pretty tough and I expect a group of thirty riders to sprint for the victory. I'll try to survive, but the yellow jersey is not sacred. I want to save a little for Wednesday's stage 3. I expect a real sprint again then."