The 2nd stage of the Tour d’ Azerbaidjan would again be totally dominated the extreme wind that blew the race to pieces. Primoz Roglic (Adria Mobil) was the rider who would reign supreme though, taking out the stage win ahead of his break away companion William Clarke (Drapac). Rafael Andriato (Neri Sottoli) would win the sprint from the reduced lead group to take 3rd.
Roglic and Clarke would jump away from a lead group of only 28 riders with around 70km’s race and were quickly able to open up a meaningful gap. The peloton was broken up into numerous small groups along the road and so no organised chase could ever come together. With only 26 riders in the first chase group, the 2 escapees committed fully to their move and were able to hold on to a slight advantage all the way to the line.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had both Sergio Pardilla and Linus Gerdemann in the front split and both riders were looking good before the final cat 1 climb. Gerdemann put an attack in on the climb but fortune would not favour the brave as the Germann would soon after have a mechanical that really took him out of the running. It seemed to take an eternity to sort out the issue with Gerdemann’s bike and by the time he was able to get going again the lead group had come and gone. With the wind blowing as strong as it was there was no chance of getting back to the front of the race alone. Pardilla continued to ride well though, staying out of trouble to eventually finish 15th. The rest of the peloton all lost close on 30 minutes to the lead group.
Directeur Sportif – Manel Lacambra
It was a hard stage again with a lot of cross wind. When the race split we only had Linus and Sergio in the first group. We had planed to attack with Linus just before the first category climb started. Linus was able to put in an excellent attack and then unluckily he had a mechanical at the bottom of the climb. It took us quite a bit of time to resolve the problem and this caused Linus to be out of contention for the victory.
Sergio rode well throughout the stage and climbed with the best riders in the race covering many of their attacks. Finally he finished in the top 15 in the stage and is still in a good GC position.
Stage 3 – Qabala > Qabala (180km)
An out and back route with a few climbs in the middle of the stage to soften the peloton up for the long gradual rise to the finish. There is a chance a break could make it if the 6 rider teams don’t cooperate all that well, otherwise a sprint for the strong men will be likely.
Stage 4 – Qabala > Pirqulu (115km)
The queen stage that will end with a HC categorised climb. There are 2 categorised climbs before the summit finish that will also ensure that the races strongest climbers will contest the stage.
Stage 5 – Baku > Baku (202km)
The longest stage of the race comes to an end with 6 laps of a 13.6km circuit which will include short sharp climb a short cobble road section too. A reduced bunch is expected to contest for the stage in a sprint.
Tour d’Azerbaïdjan (Azerbaïdjan) – (7 May – 11 May/UCI 2.1) Team Lineup
Staff: Manel Lacambra (Directeur Sportif), Yvonne Houweling (Soigneur), Nico Beyens (Soigneyr), Heiko Heinrici (Mechanic), Andreas Beck-Watt (Mechanic)