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Covering the 20.4km course in 23.38, Etixx-QuickStep won the opening team time trial in the Czech Cycling Tour with a 10-second advantage over Bora-Argon 18; Stybar is the first leader of the race

Photo: Sirotti

BORA-HANSGROHE

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CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE

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QUICK-STEP FLOORS

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ZDENEK STYBAR

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13.08.2015 @ 18:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Etixx-QuickStep lived up to their status as the overwhelming favourites for the opening team time trial of the Czech Cycling Tour when they went 10 seconds faster than Bora-Argon 18 on the 20.4km course in Unicov. Local hero Zdenek Stybar was first across the line and is the first leader of the four-day race.

 

With the emergence of Zdenek Stybar, Roman Kreuziger and Leopold König, cycling is booming in the Czech Republic and so it was just a matter of time before the country got a high-level race on the UCI calendar. This year their dream has been turned into reality as the Czech Cycling Tour has been upgraded to 2.1 status and has attracted a strong line-up.

 

Leading the line are Etixx-QuickStep who are the only ProTeam at the start and field local heroes Zdenek Stybar and Petr Vackoc. They face strong competition from pro continental teams Bora-Argon 18, CCC Sprandi and Rusvelo and a Czech national team that is led by König.

 

With a team time trial to kick off events, the Belgian team was expected to take control right from the beginning and that prediction has turned out to be true. The Belgian team was clearly the fastest in the opening 20.4km test and now holds a firm grip on the race lead with three stages to go.

 

Etixx-QuickStep were the final team down the ramp and faced a tough challenge from Bora-Argon 18. Led by local hero and TT specialist Jan Barta, the German team had set a time of 23.48 which was 12 seconds faster than CCC Sprandi in third while Rusvelo was sitting in third.

 

However, Etixx-QuickStep lived up to their status as the favourites as they covered the mostly flat course in 23.38 to go 10 seconds faster than their German rivals. To the delight of the Czech public, it was Stybar who crossed the line in first position and so is the first leader of the race.

 

Stybar will try to defend his position in tomorrow’s second stage which is an almost compete flat ride from Olomouc back to Unicov that hosted today’s stage. The stage ends with 3 laps of a finishing circuit where the sprinters are expected to rule, offering Etixx-QuickStep stagiaire Fernando Gaviria a big chance to take the lead.

 

A flat course

The 2015 edition of the Czech Cycling Tour kicked off with a 20.4km team time trial around the city of Unicov. There was a small climb at the midpoint but otherwise it was a mainly flat course that suited the big specialists.

 

It was a sunny day when the Czech National Team rolled down the ramp as the first team and they stopped the clock in 25.11 to take an early lead. That was enough to hold off Dukla Trencin who could only manage 26.13.

 

Best time for Leopard

Amore e Vita had a disastrous ride to stop the clock in 27.55 and were even passed by the GM Cycling Team which started just two minutes later. The latter team posted a time of 25.46 which was good enough for second before Leopard took the lead by going 12 seconds faster than the Czech leaders.

 

Stölting had a poor rider with 25.53 before AWT-Greenway took the lead with a time of 24.40 that was 19 seconds faster than Leopard’s mark. Amplatz slotted into second as they were one second faster than the Luxembourgish team.

 

Whirlpool take the lead

Coloquick was far off the pace with 25.37 but everybody had their eyes on local heroes Whirlpool. They lived up to expectations as they stopped the clock in 24.34 to take the lead. Metec was unable to match that pace as they slotted into third with 24.51.

 

Jo Piels were slightly faster than their compatriots with 24.50 but were soon beaten by Vorarlberg who were just fractions of a second faster. Uniero was far behind as they could only manage 25.23.

 

Etixx-QuickStep take the win

Activejet were flying and as they crossed the line in 24.33, they had gone one second faster than Whirlpool to take the lead. Synergy Baku had a bad ride with 25.50 before Felbermayr slotted into third with 24.38.

 

Itera-Katusha was the next team to set the best time as they were 3 seconds faster than Activejet but unsurprisingly they were quickly beaten by Bora-Argon 18 who were no less than 42 seconds faster. As expected Adria Mobil was unable to challenge that time as they stopped the clock in 25.00.

 

CCC posed the first serious threat for Bora but their time of 24.00 was 12 seconds off the mark. Rusvelo didn’t do any better as they were 35 seconds off the pace in third before Etixx-QuickStep crossed the line to take the expected win.

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