For the second day in a row Lotto Soudal claimed the victory at the Challenge Mallorca. The first race was a sprint stage, this time it was up to the climbers in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana. Half-way the race Lotto Soudal took control. The peloton reeled in the early escapees and thanks to the teamwork Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens got in a front group. Tim Wellens set up a solo and won the race, thanks to the support of Vervaeke in the background. Vervaeke got second at 24 seconds.
Tim Wellens: “For us, the race really began in Orient, at the Coll d’Honor, the climb at eighty kilometres from the finish. Jürgen Roelandts, Tomasz Marczynski and Bart De Clercq rode full gas towards the top. The peloton was completely strung out. Also in the descent we set a high pace, which caused the bunch to fall apart. We were riding in front with a group of about twenty riders, six of them were Lotto Soudal riders. The teammates kept riding hard until the bottom of the Coll de sa Batalla, with fifty kilometres to go. After a series of attacks Louis Vervaeke and I got in front with five others. I attacked with 35 kilometres to go. Louis Vervaeke did an excellent job protecting me, so I got a comfortable lead. When I jumped away Amador was on my wheel. I feared it would be tough to get rid of him, but it turned out he couldn’t follow me. That gave me a boost of confidence.”
“I didn’t expect to win, but I had expected that I would do well here at the Challenge Mallorca. My tests were better than last year. After the first hour of racing I suggested a strategy to sports director Bart Leysen. Without the efforts of the teammates I probably wouldn’t have won.”
“Today I expect Movistar to take control. The decision will be made on the final hill. Maybe I can now help Louis after all his support. We already rode up the hill many times on training. The hill is not very steep and it has the same gradient almost the entire way. It’s a large road and you can always see what’s ahead of you. A third consecutive victory for Lotto Soudal would be unique.”
Three out of three for Lotto Soudal at Challenge Mallorca! Tim Wellens won for the second day in a row, after André Greipel had won the first of four races on Thursday.
A breakaway of eleven riders was formed early on the stage to the Mirador d’es Colomer. They got an advantage of just over four minutes, but that dropped quickly. Before the top of the Puig Major they were all caught. From then on 55 kilometres were left. There were a few attacks, but eventually all would be decided on the three-kilometre long climb at the end. Tim Wellens accelerated at the bottom and he could stay ahead until the finish. Alejandro Valverde was second. Tiesj Benoot finished third and Louis Vervaeke fourth, also nice results for the two Lotto Soudal riders.
Tim Wellens: “I really hadn’t expected this. It was the plan that I would attack at the bottom of the climb and would go over my limit, so the others would need to do that too. Afterwards Tiesj Benoot and Louis Vervaeke had to attack. Just like yesterday our team took control of the race. After the Puig Major Bart De Clercq and Tomasz Marczynski attacked. We wanted to isolate Alejandro Valverde and that was a success. Frederik Frison brought us in the perfect position to the bottom of the climb and then I attacked. This was once again a team performance. Everyone contributed to this victory.”
“It’s wonderful to beat Valverde on such a finish. In the sprint he would have been faster. I find this second win even more beautiful than the one of yesterday because there was more tension. I won’t race tomorrow, but I might go and cheer for the boys to conquer that fourth victory!”