cycling news / National Championships update

Last week the cycling calendar was filled with National Championships. The Leopard Pro Cycling colours were represented in five countries across Europe, where the riders battled for greatness with some of the biggest names in cycling. We take you with us on a trip from Germany to Estonia via Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark. 

Germany – Alexander Krieger & Jan Brockhoff

Early in the road race there were the expected attacks from the less known riders, but it were the bigger teams that kept everything together. It was not until the eighth of fifteen laps that a front group of six managed to establish a good lead. Among these six riders was two times national champion André Greipel (Lotto Soudal), which meant that Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) had to attack as well. After a short chase, the front group then had it’s final form with eight attackers. However, already in lap nine the breakaway was reeled back in due to the hard work of Kuota-Lotto and Giant-Alpecin. The race then had to be started all over again, which was the sign for five new riders to have a go, but also this attempt and later attacks were unsuccesful. It all came down to a bunch sprint finish, in which Alexander Krieger managed to position himself well. After being looked after by his teammate Jan Brockhoff, the 24 year old sprinted to eighth place, behind the winner André Greipel and third placed Marcel Kittel.

Belgium – Laurent Vanden Bak

On Thursday, our Belgian Laurent Vanden Bak took part in the time trial championships of his country. After 38 hard kilometers in Postel, the clocked stopped after 49’52”, resulting in an eighteenth place, 3’34” behind the winner Victor Campenaerts (Team LottoNL-Jumbo). Three days later, the road race at Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure was brutal. After a very fast start, a really strong front group formed with the likes of among others Philippe Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaet (both BMC Racing Team), Sean De Bie, Thomas De Gendt, Tim Wellens (all Lotto Soudal) and Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale). De Gendt then attacked, after which Gilbert and Wellens jumped across and left the first behind. In the final sprint, Tim Wellens came short to the World Champion of 2012. Unfortunately, Laurent was unable to finish the race.

“I am very happy with my time trial as it was my best one ever. Finishing eighteenth on such a high level after a disappointing start of the season is only a confirmation that I am heading into the right direction. The road race was really tough because of the combination of 4000 altitude meters, 230 kilometers of racing and top WorldTour riders who decided to race from kilometer zero. It was a brutal race, which you can see by the fact that only 30 riders of the 150 starters finished. When I quit the race, only 60 riders were left. In general I felt okay, but I still had heavy legs from the time trial three days earlier.”

Luxembourg – Pit Leyder

In the Luxembourgish road race, Leopard Pro Cycling had Pit Leyder at the start. The race of 136 kilometers in Berboug started quiet fast and when the front group was caught back, old Leopard-riders Bob Jungels and Alex Kirsch had a great fight between each other, but the first was simply to strong and took the victory, after he already won the time trial a few days earlier. Pit Leyder showed his good form – the weekend before he finished a heavy national race in Bolanden as sixth – by finishing in thirteenth place as a first year U23 rider.

“It was a very fast race in the beginning, as I expected. In the first of eight laps I wasn’t able to follow the first group, so I rode the whole race in the second group. In the end I finished as fifth in the U23 category. I am satisfied with the result considering my break because of my final exams. Now the shape will get better and better with every race I do. I’m looking forward to racing in the next weeks with the team.”

Denmark – Patrick Olesen

The Danish Road Race Championships were being held on a flat course of over 200 kilometers in Vordingborg. As there was a lot of wind, the expectations of Patrick were no that high. With just two laps to go, a couple of attacks took place and also our climber tried to get involved, but he was not able to follow the big guys. In the end, Alexander Kamp (Stölting Service Group) was the best of a trio riders and in the bunch sprint, Patrick finished 35th.

“I had a lot of motivation coming into this race as it was my last race before a small break. However, I knew that it would be difficult as I was all by myself in these hard winds. In the race, I tried to stay close to the big professional riders. I even attacked with two laps to go, but I immediately felt some small cramps. So, for the rest of the race I stayed in the bunch and tried to do the best possible sprint. It was always going to be difficult for me, but I am satisfied as I did my very best.”

Estonia – Aksel Nõmmela

Last Wednesday, the individual time trial was on the menu in Estonia. On a 35,4 kilometers long course in and around Jüri, Aksel Nõmmela rode to seventh position – fifth in the U23 category – with a disadvantage of 3’22” to the winner Gert Joeäär (Cofidis). In the road race, there were a lot of attacks in the beginning. Aksel was present in a serious breakway group of which the three strongest guys got away at 45 kilometers from the finish line. As Aksel was boxed in at that moment, he was not able to follow immediately, which meant that it was all too late. As the front group had a U23 rider – Silver Mäoma – in it, it meant that the gold medal was gone. Aksel didn’t want to ride to the finish with Karl-Patrick Lauk in the second group, so he attacked him succesfully. In the end, our Estonian finished in fourth, thus claiming the silver medal in the U23 category.

“Well, the result in the time trial was nothing worth boasting about, but I’m satisfied because I felt that I could give everything that I had. I felt that my muscles were still really sore from the Oberösterreich Rundfahrt and my heart rate didn’t go up as it should go because of the fatigue. When you take this into account, I could get the maximum out of myself. It’s a shame that I couldn’t take the gold in the road race as I felt quite good and I think it could’ve been possible had I gotten into the first group. In the end I was satisfied that I was the best of my group and took silver.”