Tour de Romandie – Stage One: Owsian In The Break, Bevin Shows Strength
Patrick Bevin was just one acceleration away from making the key group on stage one of the Tour de Romandie, which saw Łukasz Owsian riding in the breakaway for most of the day.
The New Zealander dug deep on the final climb to stay with the General Classification contenders, finishing the stage in the first chasing group.
The 168.4-kilometer stage, which featured five category two climbs, got off to a very fast start and with multiple teams trying to send a rider into the breakaway, it was quite a task to make a move go clear.
Eventually, a 13-man group, including Owsian, was able to pull away and open up a four-minute lead but behind, the peloton, led by Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team, was pushing hard in order to not letting the leaders gain too much time in the hilly terrain.
The gap began to decrease with 80 kilometers to go and eventually the breakaway was brought back inside the final 30 kilometers of the day, on the penultimate categorized climb, the Col de la Tourne.
At this point, the bunch had been reduced to only around 40 riders, with Bevin, Joey Rosskopf and Riccardo Zoidl, who went on to try his luck with an attack with 24 kilometers to go, still in the mix.
The decisive moment of the race came on the final ascent of the stage, where both the climbers and main GC contenders launched their attacks. Bevin, who is more known for his sprinting abilities, was not able to keep up with them and together with his teammates was forced to chase.
In the end, it wasn’t possible to close the gap but, by winning the sprint to the line from the chasing group, the New Zealander showed that he would have been one of the biggest favorites for the stage win, had the groups come back together.
Quotes from the Finish Line:
“Today’s stage was seriously hard with the up-and-down course and multiple categorized climbs. Having a teammate in the breakaway was amazing because it was already a very tough day in the bunch. Inside the final 40 kilometers, the main group was slowly getting shattered and it seemed like every climb was getting harder and harder.
Eventually, I made it to the last categorized ascent with a group of maybe 30 or 40 riders before the GC guys started to attack on the last climb with 12 kilometers to go. Unfortunately we missed that final move and even though we had three guys in the chasing group, we couldn’t close the gap. Personally, you always want to win a bike race, but today’s stage turned out to be a GC day. When it came down to just 15-20 climbers there wasn’t too much room for quick guys like me. It would have been nice to make it because there was not too many fast riders left, but even on days like this you never really know in the end. It’s good to see our team riding well and we look forward to the stages ahead.”
“The race was on right from the start today and the breakaway went clear after around ten kilometers of racing. It was quite a large group of riders and the collaboration was pretty good with almost everyone contributing to the pace-setting. The peloton didn’t give us too much space and the biggest gap was only around three to four minutes. Today, we were not thinking about KOM points or intermediate sprints as we were focused only on the success of the breakaway and the battle for top places at the line. Unfortunately, the bunch was relentless and we didn’t make it to the finish but, we will continue to try.”
Eschborn – Frankfurt Comes Down to a Bunch Sprint After Fast and Furious Day of Racing
Eschborn – Frankfurt, a race known as one for the fastest riders in the peloton, came down to a hectic bunch sprint for the line, which was won by Pascal Ackermann (BORA – hansgrohe) and saw Josef Černý finish as CCC Team’s best-placed rider, just outside the top ten.
The pace in the peloton was high right from the start of the day and despite an early seven-rider breakaway opening up an advantage of almost four minutes, the gap had fallen dramatically to inside 1 minute 30 seconds at the top of the first of eight climbs after less than 50 kilometers of racing.
With the peloton not wanting to catch the leaders too early, the group’s advantage was allowed to go back up to over four minutes as the race reached the first of four ascents of the Mammolshain, a 2.3-kilometer long climb with an average gradient of 8.3 percent and pitches of over 20 percent in place.
With around 80 kilometers remaining, the peloton had once again brought the breakaway to within touching distance and after fresh attacks off the front of the peloton, including some strong moves from CCC Team riders like Jonas Koch and Laurens ten Dam, a new six-rider leading group formed.
In the end, this group was able to hold off the charging peloton until the start of the final lap of the 6.5-kilometer long city center circuit and when the catch was made, CCC Team still had four riders in the peloton with Černý, Gradek, ten Dam and Wísniowski all up there fighting for position.
In the closing kilometers of the race, it was Černý who was best-placed to try and go for the sprint and after being helped by his teammates during the hectic run into the line, he tested himself in a highly competitive field before eventually crossing the line in 13th place.
Unfortunately, German rider Koch, who was motivated about racing for a result on home soil today, was involved in a crash in the second half of the day and was forced to stop racing. An update from CCC Team doctor, Dr. Michel Cerfontaine is provided below.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“The course was very hard because it was up and down all day but we worked well together as a team and we were able to go with some of the moves and I think we did a good job. Unfortunately, though we had some bad luck with Jonas crashing and in the end, we didn’t have a typical sprinter to go up against the favorites but I said to the guys that we could maybe try to jump into the top ten, and we almost did. The team really helped me get into position on the final lap and I felt good. I came into this race from La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège and I was feeling like I had good shape after those two races and I could feel like I still had some power in my legs at the end of the race.”
Valerio Piva, Sports Director:
“When the breakaway went clear we tried to stay relaxed and in a good position in the peloton because we knew we wanted to try to jump in some of the moves and we were able to do that with Laurens and Jonas, who unfortunately crashed and was forced to stop racing. It was a real pity for him because he was looking strong and he was also motivated to do well on home soil.”
“Then in the final, we didn’t have our two fastest riders, Sajnok and Van Hoecke, so I asked the guys to try something and they worked well together to try to position Černý to do something and he did a good race against some of the World’s best sprinters. Overall, I am happy with what we did. We tried but finally, we didn’t have the sprinter and this is a race for that type of rider.”
CCC Team doctor, Dr. Michel Cerfontaine:
“Jonas Koch was involved in a crash at Eschborn – Frankfurt today and was forced to stop racing. We decided it was best to take him to hospital for observation and fortunately, X-Rays revealed that he has no fractures and further tests also showed that he does not have a concussion. Jonas does have some abrasions and bruising on the left side of his body and he has also suffered a sprained left acromioclavicular joint. We don’t expect him to need too much time off the bike but we will look to have him assessed once again at home tomorrow before we determine his exact recovery time.”
Eschborn – Frankfurt
One-day race: Eschborn > Frankfurt (187.5km)
Top 3: 1. Pascal Ackermann (BORA – hansgrohe) 2. John Degenkolb (Trek – Segafredo) 3. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates)
CCC Team Top 3: 13. Josef Černý 53. Kamil Gradek 56. Laurens ten Dam
Photos: banner – Chris Auld, feature image (Tour de Romandie) – Sirotti, main body image (Eschborn-Frankfurt) – Cor Vos