Etixx – Quick-Step second in Tirreno-Adriatico TTT
A strong display helped the team finish on the podium in stage 1 of "The Race of the Two Seas", on a day which saw stage 3 of Paris-Nice get cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.
Gianluca Brambilla, Fernando Gaviria, Bob Jungels Yves Lampaert, Tony Martin, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote were the eight riders who put in a solid ride in stage 1 of Tirreno-Adriatico, a 22.7-km long team time trial in Lido di Camaiore. The squad had a very good start and at the intermediate check came two seconds ahead of FDJ, who was first at that point. In the second part of the course, even though the wind was causing problems, Etixx – Quick-Step still pushed hard and increased the advantage it had over the French team, finishing its effort in under 24 minutes, 23:57, thanks to an average speed of 56.98 km/h, and
Unfortunately, despite their impressive effort on the flat and fast course, our riders didn't rack up the 17th win of the season, as BMC – who was among the late starters – crossed the line two seconds better than us and climbed on the top spot of the podium at the end of the day. Still, there was reason to smile for Etixx – Quick-Step at the arrival, as 24-year-old Yves Lampaert, who is racing Tirreno-Adriatico for the first time in his career, received the best young riders jersey, which he'll wear on Thursday, between Camaiore and Pomarance (207 kilometers), on a stage which is going to finish in a short uphill.
"It's not funny to be beaten by two seconds, but the boys had a beautiful performance, considering we don't have a TT-orientated team for this race. It hurts a little to come up short, but it's also a good sign for the next stages, as finishing ahead of many strong team shows that the condition is there", said sport director Brian Holm, whose feelings were echoed by three-time ITT World Champion Tony Martin: "We did a quite good ride and came just two seconds behind. Looking back, it's hard to say where we lost two seconds. Despite arriving second, I am happy with the team, as all the guys sticked to the plan and kept the speed throughout the day."
If Italy welcomed the peloton with sunny weather and 18 degrees, things weren't as smooth in France, were stage 3 of Paris-Nice was underway, on a course which was expected to seriously shake up the general classification led by Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge). But it wasn't easy at all in "The Race to the Sun", because it snowed heavily right from the start of the day and the road became slippery, which led to crashes and riders retiring. In the end, the jury made use of the Extreme Weather Protocol and decided to cancel the stage and have all the riders taken to the hotel. The event will continue on Thursday, with stage 4 (Juliénas – Romans-sur-Isère, 193.5 km), which should see the last bunch sprint of this year's edition.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele