cycling news / Strong ending to Tour de Normandie
After seven days of intense racing, the Tour de Normandie is in the books. What started with a somewhat disappointing result in the opening stage led to an active and determined Leopard Pro Cycling in the following stages. The team managed to take a fifth place in the final stage with Aksel Nõmmela after Alexander Krieger was in the break all day long.
There was no time to get used to the racing pace in Normandie, as the first stage turned out to be a battle field. This years edition had no prologue, so everyone knew that the winner of stage one would automatically be wearing the yellow leaders jersey one day later. Therefore, the pace was really high and if you combine this pace with a strong wind, then you know that it was a very tough opener. To top it all off: the finish line was situated on a short but steep climb in Gonfreville. Here, two French riders took a lead over the peloton and it was Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo) who took the win and became the first leader of the race. Later it turned out that he kept his leading position for the entire race. For Leopard there was no top result in the first stage, but it was a pleasure to see the active racing style of Jan Brockhoff.
As of the second stage, the game plan of Leopard Pro Cycling was to be active in leading groups and perhaps go for a stage win if the opportunity was there. This was the result of the fact that the GC ambitions were no longer achievable after the demanding first stage. Already in stage two, Tom Wirtgen mixed in with the attackers. The young Luxembourger won the first mountain sprint, but just missed out on the final attacking group. The stage ended up in a bunch sprint finish, which would happen three more times in the Tour de Normandie. Leopard continued their fight to be present in the breakaway in the remaining stages, but this turned out to be a really difficult task as other teams had the same tactic. In the last stage, the team finally managed to have a rider in front with Alexander Krieger. The German was really strong and was one of the two remaining early attackers before the peloton catched him with just six kilometers to the finish line in Caen. Once reeled back in, Alexander still managed to do a solid lead-out for Aksel Nõmmela, who concluded a tough and demanding Tour de Normandie with a good feeling after crossing the line in fifth place.
Alexander Krieger: “It was good to see that I was getting better and better every day. In the last stage, I gave it another shot and I made it into the break of the day, but unfortunately the peloton reeled me back in with just six kilometers to go. Now it’s time to recover for the next race, which is Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux in Belgium, another really important race.”
Tom Flammang, DS: “If you look back on this week in Normandie, you can conclude that the race was pretty hard. We came to this race with a few expectations, but already after the first stage we knew that a good result in the general classification was not possible anymore. However, it was good to see that the guys were able to switch tactics fairly quick. The guys missed some luck, but they tried really hard to be part of the breakaway every day. Also on the last day it was a hard fight to get in the front, but this time Alexander Krieger made it. The field didn’t allow the leaders to go far, so – altough Alexander was really strong – they could catch them close to the finish. Aksel Nõmmela managed to sprint to fifth place and we are happy to end the race in this way. I am convinced that all the efforts will pay off in the next races.”