cycling news / Leopard showing itself to home crowd at Škoda Tour de Luxembourg
After a very good start to the Škoda Tour de Luxembourg, Leopard Pro Cycling headed into the difficult stages two and three with a very good morale. Both stages turned out to be serious obstacles, separating the boys from the men. During both stages, the team showed itself to the home crowd with amongst others Tom Wirtgen and Szymon Rekita in breakaways, but also with Alexander Krieger who was the top finisher of the team on both days.
Stage 2 | Steinfort – Walferdange (178,4 km)
Because of his efforts one day earlier, Tom Wirtgen started the second stage of the Škoda Tour de Luxembourg in the purple jersey as leader of the mountains classification. In the beginning of the stage, the peloton remained together as an important bonification sprint was already situated after only 13 kilometers of racing. As expected, contenders for the overall victory attacked each other and the bonus seconds were being granted to Piet Allegaert (Sport Vlaanderen), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and ex-Leopard rider Alex Kirsch (Veranclassic). After this sprint, it was Leopard Pro Cycling rider Tom Wirtgen who decided to attack for the second day in a row. He was quickly joined by Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty) and Brice Feillu (Fortuneo). Together they went on a quest for mountain points and perhaps the win. Tom was able to gather some mountain points here and there, but the conclusion was that Feillu and Van Melsen had more in their locker when the roads went uphill.
Altough the lead of the trio in front went to a maximum of 2’50”, the peloton – led by BMC and Veranclassic – was determined to catch them back. When the gap to the three riders in the front was not that significant anymore, there followed some attacks from the peloton. Amongst others was Alex Kirsch, the Luxembourger who finished third last year. This was the sign for Leopard Pro Cycling’s Szymon Rekita to bridge to the front as he saw the danger of this break. However, in the end everything came back together, meaning that a group of 44 riders would sprint for the victory in Walferdange. From this group, Van Avermaet was the fastest, just in front of Leopard’s Alexander Krieger. The German crossed the line in sixth position, which is a very good result in a tough stage like this.
Stage 3 | Eschweiler – Diekirch (192,9 km)
The organisation of the Škoda Tour de Luxembourg marked the third stage as the so called Queen Stage, which was not without a reason. There were no less than six GPM’s of the first category on the menu, not counting all other uphill sections on the way to the finish in Diekirch. Having lost his mountains leaders jersey to Brice Feillu, Leopard Pro Cycling’s Tom Wirtgen decided to give it a go in the breakaway for the third day in a row. This was not to the liking of other riders and a period with lots of attacks followed. Finally, a breakaway of four riders was established, with Brice Feillu in it, making clear that he wants to win the mountains classification. The gap of the four in front never got too big, as the bunch was being controlled by BMC Racing Team of race leader Jempy Drucker and Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet. When the race arrived in Diekirch for three local laps with a tough climb up to the Caserne Grand-Duc Jean, Feillu already accomplished his goal by winning all six mountain sprints. From here on, the race got really interesting as ex-Leopard rider Alex Kirsch went on the attack with a team mate. Others followed and with only one lap to go, there was a front group of eight with also Leopard’s Szymon Rekita. Szymon and Kirsch were the last ones to be caught by the peloton just before the final sprint on the uphill finish. Here, Anthony Perez from Cofidis beat Greg Van Avermaet. Ten secons later, Alexander Krieger finished the stage in eighteenth position. With only one stage to go, the German finds himself back in 20th position in the GC, but as everything is still close together, moving up is still very likely.