cycling news / Fifth position for Foti in Rhodes, Leyder misses top ten in Lillers

Yesterday, the Leopard Pro Cycling team participated in two races which were seperated by more than 2.500 kilometers. One half of the team was active in clear weather at the International Rhodes GP (UCI 1.2), whilst the other half raced in tough conditions at the GP de la Ville de Lillers (UCI 1.2).

International Rhodes GP
Just after the start of this 195 kilometers long race, Tom Wirtgen decided to give it a go and attacked from the bunch. He managed to establish a solid lead together with his fellow attacker, but the peloton had no problem reeling them back in in the mountains which were situated with about 65 kilometers to go. After Tom was catched, the peloton made their way back to Rhodes-City. The other Leopard riders were all well placed and played an active role in the further proceedings. Small groups attacked and tried to avoid a bunch sprint, but they never got a bigger advantage than 45 seconds. In the final kilometers, Leopard’s Polish rider Szymon Rekita tried a late move, together with about ten others. Also this group didn’t stand a chance to the peloton. A bunch sprint was inevitable and the Leopard team worked hard for Carmelo Foti as he was feeling really good. In the end the Italian finished in a satisfying fifth position in a bunch sprint that was marked by a nasty crash involving two oncoming motorbikes.

Markus Zingen, DS: “It was good to see Tom Wirtgen in the breakaway. Unfortunately, only one rider joined him, so we knew that is was going to be tough to stay clear from the peloton. After Tom was catched, all guys rode very active, also Szymon tried to stay clear a few kilometers before the finish line. When we approached the finish, two oncoming motorbikes caused a serious crash and I hope that all guys involved are ok! Alexander Krieger just avoided the crash, but was not able to play a major role in the sprint. Aksel Nõmmela did a great job leading out for Carmelo Foti in this tricky final. All in all we are happy to avoid the major crash and we can be happy with the performance of the team. We are already looking forward to the Tour of Rhodes after our small training block.”


GP Lillers
Whereas the riders in Rhodes enjoyed temperatures of about twenty degrees Celsius, a bright sun and a blue sky, the peloton in Lillers had to deal with five degrees Celsius, rain and strong winds. In the first kilometers, lots of attacks took place, small groups were formed, but it took quiet a while before a leading group could establish some kind of a solid lead. When a six men front group was formed, the peloton split and another 22 riders tried to bridge the gap to the front. Then, the strong Direct Energie team took their responsibility and quickly took control over the race. Even tough no less than 31 riders were in front, everything came back together already after 61 kilometers. Then, another thirteen riders distanced themselves from the pack, but again the peloton proved to be the stronger side, guiding the race toward a bunch sprint finish, despite the late attack of last years winner Stijn Steels (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). In the mass sprint finish, three French riders stood out above the pack. Best Leopard Pro Cycling rider was youngster Pit Leyder, as he finished in twelfth position.

Gregor Willwohl, DS: “The GP Lillers was a very hard race. Only 80 out of the 198 riders managed to finish the race, which says it all. Therefore we can be happy with Pit’s result. With about 50 kilometers to go, the young Luxembourger had a flat tire while the pace of the race was very high. He then made this way back to the peloton in an impressive manner. His twelfth position shows that he is already in good shape. The team worked well together during the race and I am sure that  – once we have a bit more race kilometers in the legs – we can play a major role and be more active in races like this. For now, we all have to recover and stay healthy after a wet and cold race. However, this doesn’t mean that we are not already looking forward to the next race.”