World Ports Classic: Maes 3rd, Wins the Overall
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Nikolas Maes maintained contact with a 16 rider lead group in a highly active 195km Stage 2 of World Ports Classic, which was completely blown apart due to wind and aggressive tactics. Maes was rewarded for his hard work with the overall victory.
Race leader Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Belisol) was caught in a group minutes behind the lead group, meaning several riders in that group could win the overall. While Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin) attacked in the final kilometers and won the stage solo, Maes won the overall by 2" by finishing 3rd. Frederique Robert (Lotto-Belisol) was 2nd.
This is the 53rd (51st road) victory for OPQS in 2013, and the second victory for OPQS this week. Maes also won the green jersey for the points classification. World Ports Classic was the first GC win for Maes in his professional career. Furthermore, OPQS won the overall in the two years World Ports Classic was held.
OPQS did much of the work splitting up the field, with riders pushing themselves to the limit throughout the race. The overall victory of Maes was the result of great teamwork.
"We built up this victory in two days of a great job with the team," Maes said. "Yesterday we tried with Alessandro Petacchi. We worked for him for the sprint, but there was another guy in the front, Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Belisol). So this morning we tried again to go for Peta. The team really was involved in every moment of the race. At 30 kilometers and 90 kilometers for example, we tried to split the group. But it was not the wind we were expecting. So it was really difficult to split the best in the GC. In the final there was Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol) on the attack and we were behind with four riders. Wilfried Peeters from the car told me to attack and try to enter in an eventual breakaway. I went on the attack with 15 guys but I was the only one on the team. He told me not to ride and wait for the sprint. I sat on wheels the rest of the race waiting for the right moment and hoping also to win the stage. I suppose that Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) could have been caught, but it wasn't the case. I went for the sprint. I did a long sprint and Frederique Robert (Lotto-Belisol) just passed me at the finish line. When this happened I was afraid I didn't win the race, but after the finish someone on the team told me Robert was far behind the day before, and so I was the winner. I am really happy and I have to thank the team. They rode like hell today. In this team everyone helps each other and when you have your chance you can count on this great team to support you. Now I am in good condition. I have still a few races in front of me on my program. I will do my best to make the best out of my condition."