The first day of racing in Slovakia featured a split-stage, consisting of a morning road stage and a race against the clock in the afternoon. After a chaotic and crash-marred finale, Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) took the win on stage 1A while CCC Team’s riders arrived safely across the line.
Riccardo Zoidl was CCC Team’s first starter and after crossing the finish line at the end of the 7.4-kilometer technical time trial, he was sitting in second place behind Maciej Bodnar (BORA – hansgrohe) who, at the time, was holding the best result.
Midway through the competition, the top time trialists set off and started to set the best times of the day with Stefan Küng (Groupama – FDJ) stopping the clock at 9:03 which would prove to be the time to beat.
Gradek, who started his effort shortly after the Swiss rider, was only ten seconds slower across the line with the third provisional best time and in the end, settled for fourth place with Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick Step) knocking him off the podium. Gijs Van Hoecke also put on a good performance, taking eight place, 17 seconds off the pace.
Quotes from the Finish Line:
“I think that fourth place, in such a quality field of time trialists, is something I can be happy about. There is still some disappointment because I just missed out on the podium but the most important thing is that I did a very good TT. I’d covered the course a few times before the stage so, I knew it pretty well and I don’t think I made any technical errors. I think that the legs were at their best today as well and I gave it all out there. In the end, I lost to three riders but, what riders they are. I think today’s performance was a good sign ahead of the upcoming world championships.
I’ve been improving my time trial skills so the fourth place is not a big surprise to me. I’ve been focused on TT preparation for the last two to three weeks, to be ready for the worlds and I was hoping to do well here. To finish up there among such powerhouse time trialists is a nice result and I can be happy with my form.
Tomorrow’s stage is held in the mountains but, the last climb is almost 70 kilometers away from the finish and the flat section may neutralize all the action. However, the day after there is an uphill finish, which may cause some splits in the bunch and it will be important to be in the front to keep a good spot in the General Classification”.
Tour de Slovaquie
Stage 1: Bardejov > Bardejov (7.4km)
Top 3: 1. Stefan Küng (Groupama – FDJ) 2. Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 3. Bob Jungels (Deceuninck – Quick Step)
CCC Team Top 3: 4. Kamil Gradek 8. Gijs Van Hoecke 21. Riccardo Zoidl