Italian Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia), winner of five stages in 2017, opened up the 2018 Tour of Hainan in Danzhou with a win.
Mareczko powered down the hot Danzhou streets and raised his arms ahead of Dylan Page (Switzerland) and Manuel Belletti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), second and third for the day. With the win, he took the yellow leader's jersey that he will wear in stage two Wednesday, 139.6km to Chengmai.
"The team worked perfectly until the last kilometres," he said.
"We tried to keep the escape at one minute or one and a half. We worked the final. Luca Pacioni guided me, left me on Belletti's wheel. Afterwards, it was a beautiful sprint."
The sprint came at the end of a relatively short 90 kilometres around the Island town. Sun shined on the peloton, which helped celebrated the start of the 13th edition when it departed.
An escape of six dominated the sunny roads. Liu Jianpeng & Zhang Zheng (Hegxiang), Niu Yikui (Mitchelton-BikeExchange), Ivar Slik (Monkey Town Continental Team), Li Zisen (Qinghai Tianyioude) and Joab Schneiter (Swiss) rode well together. But it began to break up around the intermediate sprint won by Zheng.
Ivar Slik (Monkey Town) and Joab Schneiter (Swiss) continued towards the line. Mareczko's and other sprinters' teams kept a close eye on their progress.
Mareczko added, "My team-mates worked to maintain the escape. After the intermediate sprint, only two riders were left. On the last lap, my team pulled and I rode the wheels."
He comes to Hainan after steady race programme in China and made one of his rare sprint wins on stage one.
"Second is a good start against a really strong Mareczko," Page said.
"There were many good sprinters at the start line, I didn't know what was possible, but we have a good team for the sprint."
Page already visited the Hainan island in 2016 and 2017. He is tired of podiums, he now wants a win.
"I should be able to win, and I hope so, but this is cycling," Page added. "And a crash in the final today, too, that's cycling, you never know, everything can happen."
Mareczko celebrated in Danzhou with the yellow leader's jersey. Some trophies were left for his rivals.
Zhang Zheng (Hengxiang Cycling Team), fourth in the sprint, earned the best Asian rider blue jersey and Ivar Slik (Monkey Town Continental Team), with his fight in the escape, came away from the podium with the combativity award.