Etixx – Quick-Step victorious in Tour de San Luis opener
A perfect day for the team, who won stage 1 of the race and helped Maximiliano Richeze to don the leader's jersey in his home race.
Etixx – Quick-Step’s first UCI event of the season – the Tour de San Luis – brought the squad its first victory of the year, thanks to a solid performance in the team time trial which took place outside the Argentinian town of El Durazno, on a 21-km long course. Rodrigo Contreras, Fernando Gaviria, Maximiliano Richeze, Fabio Sabatini, Stijn Vandenbergh and Lukasz Wisniowski rode full gas right from the start, set the best time at the intermediate point (10.4 km) and continued in the same manner until the finish, where they recorded a time of 23:53.
The only team to go below 24 minutes, Etixx – Quick-Step was 8 seconds faster than Movistar, who was runner-up, while Astana finished third, 17 seconds adrift. With the victory came also the first leader’s jersey of the event for Maximiliano Richeze, the Argentinian rider nicknamed “El Atomico”, who has joined Etixx – Quick-Step in the off season. Also Colombia’s Rodrigo Contreras – who raced his first event as pro – got to wear a jersey, for leading the U23 classification.
At the end of the day, sport director Davide Bramati was one happy man: “We are really content. Yesterday we did a recon of the course and we saw it could suit us. The second part was more difficult, but the guys did a great job. They were all very motivated to show themselves and to get a good result in the first race of the year. We decided together that we’ll let Max cross the line first, because he’s Argentinian, and this gave them an extra motivation. We came here to win a stage and we did it. Now let’s see what tomorrow’s stage, which is suited to the sprinters, will bring and if we can score another good result with Fernando.”
Starting his 10th pro season, Maximiliano Richeze blasted across the finish line first and climbed on the podium not only together with the team, but also to receive the green jersey, for the leader of the overall standings, eight years after winning a stage here:
I am very happy and I would like to thank my teammates for making me such a beautiful gift.
“This jersey comes as a reward for the work I have done. My last victory came more than three years ago, so that’s what makes this moment even more important. On top of that, my brother Mauro is here, riding with the San Luis team, so it’s a double joy. I want to enjoy every second of this race, to take it day by day, but I also remain realistic and will continue working for the team from tomorrow on in order to land other strong results.”
Stage two of the race will see the peloton leave from San Luis and tackle a third-category climb, the only categorized ascent on the course. After 181,9 kilometers from the start, the riders will arrive in San Luis, where the sprinters are expected to fight for the victory.
Photo credit: Tim De Waele