Quick-Step wins again, Alaphilippe rejoiced

Quick-Step wins again, Alaphilippe rejoiced

The Belgian team’s riders have confirmed again in the first stage of The Tour of Slovakia that they didn’t just come to show off their jerseys. Yesterday in the prologue, it was Bob Jungels who secured the first position for the team, today they thank Julian Alaphilippe. But not only he excelled in the race – Martin Haring has not only won a prize for the most fighting rider of the first stage, but he also won the dotted jersey.


Exactly at half past twelve the first stage of the 62nd Annual of The Tour of Slovakia started. The start was celebrated on a crowded square of St. Egidius. From there the peloton left Poprad and set course towards Štrbské pleso, where the today’s big 165 kilometers long challenge ended. The riders were relentlessly fast from the very start. The main group didn’t want to allow a lot of riders to enter into the front during the first ten kilometers, although many tried to do so. An overall of five riders had in the end got into the full day breakaway.


Haring had for almost a whole day the company of Giulio Ciccone of Bardiani – CSF, the winner of 12th stage on Giro D’Italia of 2016, Emanuel Piaskowy of Hurom team and Torjus Sleen of Uno-X Norwegian Development. For a while, Pannon Cycling Team and WSA Pushbikers also had their representantives in the leading group – Dániel Dina (Pannon Cycling Team) and Felix Ritzinger (WSA Pushbikers).


Martin Haring (Dukla) florished with activity throughout the whole day. He ended up on the second position in the mountain competition right in the beginning of the race. On a hill in Horný Smokovec he was faster than Italian Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani – CSF), who was the best mountaineer from the whole leading group. After that, the sprinting competition commenced, where Haring, a rider of the only Slovakian continental team have outspurted the whole competition and thus won the dotted jersey.


The peloton wasn’t so fast during the first two competitions. It took a while till some teams in its front had formed. The tempo of the first third of the stage was dictated by Russians from Gazprom – Rusvelo, who didn’t let any rider to step into the front. It was only during the third mountain competition that the main group got a new lead – a rider of Quick-Step Floors. The main group at the time had a full two minute lead. In the meantime, Ciccone (Bardiani – CSF) has won both the second and third mountain competition, proving his spectacular mountain qualities.


Ritzinger (WSA Pushbikers) didn’t stay in the break for too long. Hungarian Dina (Pannon Cycling Team) has also left the front. He had to fight with several technical problems throughout the day, his chain was always refusing to do its duty. Dina has also lost contact with the front of the race during the risings, where he was literally biking through hell. It was exactly during the fourth mountain competition, situated on Osturňanské sedlo, where he has lost contact with other four riders in the break . Ciccone has again gained all the points on the competition. Haring (Dukla) was doing very well as well.


But the rider of Dukla Banská Bystrica didn’t want to be the king of the hill. He set his eyes on points competition. After the first spurting competition he got the full points also on the second speed competition and the third after that. His only contestant today was Piaskowy (Hurom), who was also aiming for a dotted jersey, but he wasn’t able to beat Haring (Dukla) on any of the competitions. Martin could be very happy with himself by the end of the day, even though the peloton has reached him 25 kilometers before the finish line and he finished with loss of 15 minutes. He has succesfully finished his own mission, got to the break, won a valuable jersey and tomorrow he will wear a red number for the most fighting rider.


Big things had started to happen also in the main package. After the second sprinting competition in Tatranská Lomnica, the gap between the leading group and the peloton had lowered from two minutes to minute and a half. By this moment, especially the riders of Quick-Step Floors worked hard, since they knew very well that it is Ciccone (Bardiani – CSF) who can, by the end of the stage, cause trouble for their leaders, Bob Jungels and Julian Alaphillippa. The yellow jersey wearer and also last week’s winner of the event of The Tour of Britain didn’t have any technical problems today. They reserved their strengths in the group for the last climb.


The last climb was reached by the whole peloton together, there was no break at the time in the front. The last mountain competition, which ended mere two and a half kilometers before the finish line, has offered an interesting battle to look on. Serge Pauwels from Belgian representation was pushing very hard on his pedals. Especially „floorists“ have reacted very fast. A lot of riders and the peloton itself was torn to several parts because of the high tempo which riders of Quick-Step had started to manifest. Yellow Bob Jungels also had weaker legs in the finish. He didn’t hold the consistent leading position in the overall classification and he finished 23 seconds after the winner.


The first stage of The Tour of Slovakia was won by his team colleague, Julian Alaphilippe, who has decided his triump in the final meters. Despite the fact that since the end of the last mountain competition there was always climbing, three riders managed to stay in contact with him. Alaphilippe had the strongest legs by the end though, he has beaten his competition in sprint and thus gained his 17th professional victory in his carreer. He also became the new wearer of yellow jersey. Ben Hermans of Belgian representation finished second. Attila Valter of Pannon Cycling Team seized the third position and for his effort he has also been given the white jersey, which is reserved for the best young rider.