SINJ, 26 September 2023 – After 4 hours and 38 minutes of dynamic racing, Italian Elia Viviani was the first to cross the finish line of stage 1 of the eighth edition of CRO Race, which ran a 181 kilometre course from Primošten to Sinj.
Shortly after leaving Primošten, a breakaway formed with five riders—Italians Simone Bevilacqua (Eolo-Kometa) and Edward Ravasi (Hrinkow), Spaniard Raul Garcia (Kern Pharma), Czech Michal Schuran (ATT Investments), and Pole Mateusz Grabis (Voster). The leading five rode beautifully together, stretching their lead over the peloton to more than four and a half minutes.
Grabis was the first to pass through the first intermediate sprint in Šibenik ahead of Bevilacqua and Garcia, while Schuran was the first to reach the top of the race’s first categorised climb, Ljubitovica, ahead of Bevilacqua and Ravasi.
Holding their rhythm, the breakaway were also first to reach the second categorised climb up Lećevica, although by then their lead had shrunk to less than three minutes. Ravasi was the first to crest the climb, with Schuran and Bevilacqua taking second and third places, respectively. The second intermediate sprint followed in Split, which was once again taken by Grabis ahead of Garcia and Ravasi.
During the climb up Klis, the third and most difficult climb of the day, Grabis was dropped from the leading group, leaving Schuran and Bevilacqua to fight it out for first place at the top. Bevilacqua edged out Schuran for the win on Klis, however, even second place here for Schuran was enough to assure him a point over Bevilacqua and put him in the green king of the mountains jersey. Bevilacqua gathered 11 points to Schuran’s 12 in competition for the jersey; we will have to see if he can manage to hang on to it for the remainder of the race.
By the first pass through Sinj, the lead group was down to three breakaway riders; Schuran once again took the intermediate sprint at the Sinjska Alka competition field, once again displaying the fine form he had been showing since the start of the race—or perhaps even the potential to repeat his success from the Tour of Bulgaria in August. However, exactly 20 kilometres before the finish, Schuran lost hold of the leading position, and the battle for the stage win ensued.
Experienced 34-year-old Viviani sprinted to his first win of the year on the wave of a perfectly synchronised effort from his teammates, who had pushed their way to the front of the peloton in the last few kilometres to prepare a lead out for him. Viviani’s stage victory makes him this the first to wear this year’s red race leader’s jersey; his points total also puts him in the lead for the blue points jersey.
“I have achieved very good results throughout the season, so this stage win is a big relief. The team prepared the perfect lead out for me in the final kilometres. I came here to win as many stages as possible, but Magnus Sheffield will be fighting for the overall general classification win for the team“, stated Viviani, who came to Croatia straight from the Netherlands where he took part in the European Championships. “Since we landed in Croatia, considering the weather and the views we have here, the team and I feel like we are on holiday,” added Viviani.
Dane Tobias Andersen (DSM-Firmenich) crossed the finish line just after Viviani, followed by another veteran, 36-year-old Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X).
Just seven kilometres out from the stage finish, there was a crash involving last year’s winner Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious), who found himself on the tarmac with a few other riders. Although his teammate Fran Miholjević came to his aid shortly thereafter, Mohorič crossed the finish line 50 seconds down on the main group.
At the starting line, the riders were seen off by Šibenik-Knin County head Marko Jelić and his deputy Iris Ukić Kotarac, Primošten municipality head Stipe Petrina, and Šibenik-Knin County Tourist Board director Krešimir Šakić.
The cyclists were met at the finish line by mayor of Sinj Miro Bulj, representative of Split-Dalmatia County Igor Stanišić, deputy mayor of Sinj Denis Bobeta, Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board representative Joško Rogošić, and City of Sinj Tourist Board director Monika Vrgoč.
The second stage of the race starts on 27 September in Biograd na Moru at 2:15 PM and finishes in Novalja; cyclists are expected to arrive in Novalja between 4:49 and 5:02 PM.
If you use photos from the folder entitled Mario Stiehl photography, please credit them to Mario Stiehl. If you use photos from the folder entitled Luis Angel Gomez, please credit them to Luis Gomez/Sprint Cycling Agency.More information about the race, teams, cyclists, etc. will be available on the official sites on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.