The Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders made their presence felt at the 1st road stage of the Tour de Luxembourg today. Matt Brammeier found the break of the day before Kristian Sbaragli sprinted to 5th place at the line.
Matt would go on the attack from kilometer zero and dragged 5 other riders up the road with him. It was a long 212km slog today and so the break were allowed to get up to 5 minutes lead on the peloton. Matt certainly had some good legs though as he increased the tempo closer to the end of the stage which saw 3 of the other breakaway riders drop from the lead group. The persistence by our Irishman nearly paid off as he would only be caught be the Lotto-Soudal led peloton with 2km to go.
While it was unfortunate that Matt would eventually be reeled in, our African team were still prepared to sprint it out at the finish. Kristian would be holding the wheel of Youcef Reguigui in the final kilometers as the sprint was building up. Gerald Ciolek was also in contention but the Lotto-Soudal train would be the defining factor though as Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) would cross the line 1st with relative ease in the end.
Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty Groupe Gobert) was 2nd and Danielle Ratto (United Healthcare) would finish 3rd. After race leader Adrien Petit (Cofidis) crossed the line 4th, the MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung sprint duo of Kristian and Gerald would then claim 5th and 6th respectively.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
The stage was a long one but not so hard. Youcef brought me to to a good position for the final but I had to touch the brakes with 400m to go which caused me to lose some ground and in the end the chance to contest for the victory. The coming days will be pretty hard but I will test my condition on the climbs.
Matt Brammeier – Rider
I had pretty good legs all day. I tried to catch the guys out with a big surge at 25km to go. I don’t get my chance very often so I was super motivated to make the most of it. It was pretty close, I had to do a lot of the pushing towards the finish & the guys with me were pretty stuffed. With a little bit more horsepower I think we could have made it. Eventually I was caught around 2km to go and finished the day empty handed.