Strong Tratnik second in Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia
In the first European road race for Team Visma | Lease a Bike, the team proved themselves. On the mountainous course of the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, Sepp Kuss, and Tosh van der Sande attacked for a long time. Jan Tratnik came to the front in the closing stages and attacked on the final climb. The Slovenian finished second behind Ben O'Conner, who had escaped earlier.
The first race on European soil got off to a fast start. Soon, the traditional early breakaway appeared, including Van der Sande, who eventually made the podium as the mountain classification winner. The group gained up to six minutes on the peloton before the first categorised climb. On the second and longest climb of the day, the Collado Bermejo, the yellow and black peloton set the pace for the peloton, and the gap was steadily reduced.
In the final kilometres of the Spanish race, Kuss accelerated. He picked up the better climbers in the peloton, including O'Conner, and in no time, the gap to the lead group was closed. This left 13 riders, including Kuss and Van der Sande, heading for the final climb of the day. Just before the climb, O'Conner and Tim Wellens decided to attack, and the rest of the peloton caught Kuss and the rest of the group. It was in this peloton that Tratnik decided to attack on the final climb. He caught Wellens, who O'Conner had dropped, and eventually sprinted to second place.
Sport director Maarten Wynants on today's tactics. "We didn't have a declared favourite. The idea was to make the race hard on the first two climbs and send someone in the early breakaway, which worked. It was unfortunate that Wellens and O'Conner came out of the break at a bad time. Sepp got stuck behind someone's wheel and missed the decisive battle. We then decided to try and push from behind. With Jan, we still had an excellent result, but it could have been better. Congratulations to Mick van Dijke, who was with the best on the last climb and finished ninth.”
"I'm happy with this performance, and it's nice to start my season like this"
"It's a good start to the season”, a delighted Tratnik said. "The second climb was a bit too hard for me. The last climb was much better for me, and I still felt great, which allowed me to make a difference. I'm happy with this performance, and it's nice to start my season like this.”