Cesare Benedetti takes out 7th place on the queen stage of the Tour of Slovakia.
After yesterday’s short pancake flat prologue, the Tour of Slovakia saw the first mountain stage today. With seven climbs, the queen stage of the race was a demanding one. The race was led by a small breakaway for much of the day, which was, however, caught on the penultimate climb. The final kilometres were the ground for attack after attack, however, in the end J. Alaphilippe was the first to cross the line in an uphill sprint from a reduced group. Cesare Benedetti, the highest-placed BORA – hansgrohe rider on the stage, finished in 7th place.
On the 164.4km-long route from Poprad to the winter sport and spa town of Štrbské Pleso in the High Tatras, the riders had to contend with no less than seven classified climbs, including six first category ascents and one second category ascent. Towards the end of the stage, a 7.3km-long and 5 per cent steep final climb to Štrbské Pleso had to be crested two times.
The Team Tactics
If Felix Großschartner had recovered from his long journey back from Canada, where he took part in the GP Quebec and Montreal, the team would ride fully in his support. Today’s stage was not easy, and it was one that would test the riders with its significant elevation gain. Riders with ambitions to notch up a good ranking in the general classification would attempt to put time into their rivals or at least limit any losses. It could therefore be expected that some movement would be seen in the overall standings by the end of the stage.
The first few kilometres of the stage saw a series of unsuccessful attacks, but after the first KOM, five riders were able to distance themselves from the peloton. During the course of the day, their gap hovered largely around 2 minutes. The peloton was reluctant to let the elastic stretch too far and the race situation remained unchanged for a fairly long time. However, shortly before the fourth climb, the peloton, which at that point was being led by Quick-Step Floors, pushed the tempo and one of the escapees had no choice but to fall back into the main field. Under this increased speed, the gap reduced to 1 minute. With 35km remaining, a rider attacked from the breakaway and took on the penultimate climb alone, and his breakaway companions were absorbed by the peloton shortly afterwards. However, the soloist was caught a few kilometres later by the chasing peloton. Under the high tempo that was being set by Gazprom – RusVelo and Quick-Step Floors on the penultimate climb, several riders in the peloton were dropped. The final 10km saw attack after attack, however in the end, the queen stage was taken out by J. Alaphilippe in an uphill sprint. Cesare Benedetti, the highest-placed BORA – hansgrohe rider of the day, finished the stage in 7th place, 3 seconds in arrears of the stage winner.
01 J. Alaphilippe 4:14:40
02 B. Hermans +0:00
03 A. Walter +0:00
04 J. Tratnik +0:00
07 C. Benedetti +0:03
From the Finish Line
“We originally wanted to ride for Felix Großschartner, however he hadn’t quite recovered from his long trip back from Canada. On the last climb, there were three BORA – hansgrohe riders left, but then I found myself alone in a small group, and I tried to give my best. The Tour of Slovenia is admittedly a relatively small race, however, it is still nice to be able to mix things up at the front end. Now we’re going to see what I can do in the coming days here.” – Cesare Benedetti
“Our plan was to support Felix Großschartner, however as he had just returned from competing in the two WorldTour races in Canada, he was not in his best form today. He was dropped on the penultimate climb and so Cesare Benedetti had the opportunity to ride for a good result today, which he was able to achieve with his 7th place. We’re very satisfied with his placing. Usually he rides in support of other riders as a domestique, and it is good to see that he was able to notch up such a result today. Over the next few days we will try to win a stage and hope to succeed with this goal.” – Christian Pömer, Sports Director