cycling news / Very good start to Škoda Tour de Luxembourg
The Škoda Tour de Luxembourg has started off well for Leopard Pro Cycling. On their home soil, the riders of the Luxembourgish UCI Continental Team show that they are more than capable to compete on this level of racing. After a solid prologue, the team continued the momentum and took home the mountains leaders jersey and a third position at the finish of stage one in Bascharage.
At Wednesday evening, the city centre of Luxembourg-City was the scene for the prologue of this year’s Škoda Tour de Luxembourg. Here, the organizers had made a technical 2,1 kilometers long course leading the riders from the Boulevard Franklin D. Roosevelt to the finish at the Rue Notre Dame. The Leopard Pro Cycling team was really motivated to go full gas for about three minutes and present theirselves in a great manner to the crowd. Local favorite Tom Wirtgen rode a very good time trial, he was only nine seconds behind the later winner Damien Gaudin. Also Alexander Krieger was in perfect shape. The German was on his way to at least a podium place, but he broke his chain on the difficult climb on the Rue Large. After changing his bike, he crossed the line in 3’14”, good for a 34th position, only 14 seconds behind the winner. One could imagine what the result would have been without this bad luck.
The morale in the team was very good after such a solid prologue, which was noticable during stage one. After the start was given at the Place Guillaume II, young Luxembourger Tom Wirtgen decided to give it a go in the breakaway. The 21-year-old managed to create a solid lead together with his breakaway companions Raphael Freienstein (Lotto-Kernhaus) and Fabien Doubey (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). The cooperation in the group was good and the peloton – led by Armee De Terre and BMC Racing Team – quickly gave them an advantage of maximum 5’40”. On the way to this maximum lead, Tom Wirtgen crossed the line of the two GPM sprints in Canach and Remerschen in first. This meant that he will be wearing the leaders jersey of the mountains classification in stage two. After this, Tom had to deal with a bike change, but also with hunger pangs. It was better for him to let his two fellow attackers go and settle in the bunch. Unfortunately, the bunch went full gas in the final of the race, meaning that Tom had to let them go as well. When also the last two attackers were reeled in, the pack prepared for a mass sprint finish. Here, Alexander Krieger made sure that Aksel Nõmmela was in a perfect position. This tactic worked and the Estonian was able to sprint to a well-deserved third position, just behind Jempy Drucker (BMC Racing Team) and Timothy Dupont (Verandas Willems) and before Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team). These results on the second day at the Škoda Tour made the Leopard Pro Cycling team only more motivated for what’s to come.
Aksel Nõmmela: “In the prologue I just went full gas, I didn’t take too much risks, but I went as fast as I could. I finished as 21st, which I think is the maximum that I could do yesterday. Today, it was nice that Tom could take the mountains jersey in the breakaway, which is a good promotion for our team and sponsors. For us in the bunch it was quite an easy day because we knew that only three guys were in front, so for sure we would catch them back in time. There was no real stress until the final laps. In the last two laps we went full gas and Carmelo Foti did a very good job to pull back the last attackers. It was a little bit hectic to stay in the good position, but thanks to the help of Gaëtan Pons I was able to do so. In the final lap, Alexander Krieger took over and guided me to a perfect position for the sprint. I managed to sprint to third place today and I happy with this result.”
Tom Wirtgen: “I am really happy with my start to the Škoda Tour de Luxembourg, as I could not have wished for more. Before the prologue, I had a top twenty position in mind, so my fifteenth position was really good for me. Today it was not really planned to go in the breakaway, but as I was there, I wanted to take the most out of it. It really means a lot to me to wear the leaders jersey of the mountains classification in my home race. I don’t really have a plan for the upcoming stages, so we will see day by day. Now it’s time for recovery, but I am already motivated for the remainder of the race.”