cycling news / Rekita wins GP Kayl, active Leopard at Paris-Arras
The past weekend, Leopard Pro Cycling was again active in more than one race. Whilst one part of the team collected very pleasing results at A Travers Les Hauts de France – Trophee Paris-Arras Tour (UCI 2.2), Polish powerhouse Szymon Rekita rode at the GP Kayl in Luxembourg to his second victory of the year.
The GP Kayl turned out to be a race with a very high pace as the average race speed went all the way over the 41 kilometers per hour mark. The GP Kayl is a regional race in Luxembourg, which consists of local laps with a some height differences, leading to 1.035 altimeters after 90 kilometers of racing. Combine this with the high pace and the strong competitors and one could image how hard this race was. The race was marked by a lot of attacks in which the Leopard Pro Cycling riders Szymon Rekita, Aksel Nõmmela and Pit Leyder were involved. With over three laps to go, the team was outnumbered in the front group, upon which Szymon decided to attack. No one was able to counter him, and thanks to his big engine, Szymon reached the finish line solo with a solid advantage on the first following group, in which Aksel was able to put himself on the podium as well.
Szymon Rekita: “Already before the race we decided to go all in and make it a hard day for everyone. Right after the start, the pace was already high and all the Leopard riders were active to be present in the first group. After lots of attacking, Aksel and I found ourselves in a group with four guys from Differdange Losch. This was the sign for me to try a long attack with over three laps to go. I attacked and nobody followed me, so I was able to go all the way to the finish. I am happy with this win, it gives us all a good morale up to the upcoming Flèche du Sud and Škoda Tour de Luxembourg.”
The Paris-Arras Tour started last Friday with a stage from Marquion to Gouy-sous-Bellone, which had five GPM’s in the second part of the race. On those climbs, Alexander Krieger showed himself as the German gathered three points for the mountain classification, but nothing could prevent a bunch sprint finish despite the numerous attacks. This sprint was won by the Brit Jacob Hennessy after a day on which the average speed reached an astonishing 46,3 kilometers per hour. As always, Krieger managed to finish in the top ten of the day as he sprinted to position seven. However, the most important detail of the day was the fact that both Alexander Krieger and Gaëtan Pons managed to get themselves two and one bonification second(s), placing them in fifth and sixth overall.
This solid start to the race gave the other members of the Leopard outfit confidence. In the beginning of the difficult second stage, Tom Wirtgen did what he loves most. The young Luxembourger was part of a small breakaway group, before he decided to give it a go in a solo attack. Tom was able to get bonification seconds, which was also the case for John Mandrysch and Alexander Krieger, who attacked later in the race. However, the pack decided that there would be a bunch sprint finish again, in which Gaëtan Pons stood up and took fourth place.
On the final day, the tactics of the Leopard Pro Cycling team were the same; try to be in as much attacking groups as possible. However, this time the team missed the right move, which meant that the guys had to take their responsibility on the front of the peloton. Everyone was reeled in in time for the third bunch sprint in a row. Unfortunately, a sixteenth place for Alexander Krieger was the highest achievable. In the overall ranking, Krieger finished as tenth with a delay of eleven seconds to the winner Jordan Levasseur. Tom Wirtgen finished as eleventh, twelve seconds behind the Frenchman.
Gaetan Pons: “I came to Paris-Arras with self-confidence after my performances in the Tour de Bretagne. Thanks to all the efforts I did there, I was in a good shape this weekend, which you could already sense in the first stage where I took one second bonification. Altough I crashed with only 11 kilometers to go, I was able to get back in the peloton and conclude the day as sixth in the GC. The next day, Alexander told me that he was not able to sprint because of his efforts in the breakaway. I took my responsibility and finished as fourth. I am very happy with this result as it was my first top five finish of the season in an UCI race. It was good to see such a strong team on this day. During the final stage, we missed the breakaway, so we had to close the gap to the front group. Unfortunately, me and John crashed at only seven kilometers to go. I had to change both wheels and also my frame was broken, so this took too much time to retain my good position in the GC. However, I really appreciate all the efforts of the entire team and the team spirit we had. I am already looking forward to the start of the Tour de Luxembourg!”
Gregor Willwohl, DS: “During this race, I saw the strongest team performance of the season so far. Especially because the race was quite demanding, this made me really excited and very proud. Beforehand we knew that the bonification seconds would be a huge influence on how the stages would develop. Already on the first day, we took two and one second(s) with Alexander and Gaëtan on the only sprint of the day. We continued this tactic on the second day where we were involved in several attacking groups with Tom, Alexander and John who all managed to get some bonus seconds. Alexander’s group was in fact close to the finish, but were catched at the last minute. Then, Gaëtan took his chance and became fourth. Here and there we made some small mistakes, like in the last stage where we missed the breakaway, but we all know that there is still room to improve.”