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After hard work from Lampre-Merida, Modolo beat Wippert and Malucelli in the bunch sprint on stage 2 of the Czech Cycling Tour; Wippert took the overall lead

Photo: ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - ZENNARO - PERI

CZECH CYCLING TOUR

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EF PRO CYCLING

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SACHA MODOLO

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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WOUTER WIPPERT

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12.08.2016 @ 18:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a frustrating Giro d’Italia, Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) finally returned to his winning ways when he came out on top in the bunch sprint on stage 2 of the Czech Cycling Tour. After his team had worked hard to control the stage, he beat Wouter Wippert (Cannondale) and Matteo Malucelli (Uniero) in the final dash to the line. Wippert took over the leader’s jersey from teammate Sebastian Langeveld.

 

In April, Sacha Modolo won two stages in the Tour of Turkey and so was confident that he would have a great Giro d’Italia after winning two stages in 2015. However, the Italian grand tour ended as a huge disappointment as three third places were his best results.

 

Modolo had another disappointment in the Tour de Slovenie a few weeks later and then hit the reset button, hoping to be stronger in the second half of the year. However, the Tour de Pologne was another frustrating experience as he was never in contention in the sprints.

 

This week Modolo is the star sprinter at the Czech Cycling Tour where Lampre-Merida is one of only two WorldTour teams. Hence, it is a perfect chance to regain confidence and today he probably got a big boost when he won the only sprint stage of the race, finishing off hard work from his teammates.

 

After the opening team time trial, the sprinters were expected to come to the fore on stage 2. The 177km between Olomouc and Unicov were definitely not flat as a flat start led to a tough middle section with four categorized climbs. However, the final climb came with 73.4km to go and then the riders headed along flat roads to the finish where they ended the stage by doing three laps of a 10.9km circuit that was completely flat.

 

It was an overcast day when the riders gathered for the start and they got the stage off the usual aggressive opening. Josef Cerny (CCC) was one of the many active riders but no one had escaped after 20km of aggressive racing.

 

Remi Cavagna (Klein Constantia) tried a solo attack and when he was brought back his teammate Jeremy Lecroq gave it a go. None of them had any success but at the 22km mark, a six-rider group was finally formed. Cavagna was part of the action and found himself with Alessandro Malaguti (Uniero), Philipp Walsleben (Beobank), Sven Van Luijk (Parkhotel), Adam Stachowiak (Verva) and Artem Ovechkin (Gazprom-Rusvelo) for company.

 

The sextet got an advantage of 1.30 before Malaguti won the first intermediate sprint and then they pushed the gap out to 3.20 at the 30km mark. Here the Cannondale-Drapac team hit the front with Ryan Mullen and Alan Marangoni who tried to keep the situation under control.

 

Walsleben suffered a puncture but he was able to rejoin the leaders who had increased the advantage to four minutes. A little later, Van Luijk won the first KOM sprint.

 

Cannondale-Drapac didn’t give the break much of an advantage and the gap had soon dropped to 2.30. As Jack Bauer also started to work for the American team, they allowed it to go back out to 3 minutes at the 60km mark before Malaguti won a close sprint at the top of the second climb.

 

After 70km of racing, the gap 3.35 and moments later Walsleben won the third KOM sprint. Van Luijk punctured on the descent but he managed to rejoin the leaders who decided to wait for him.

 

After the front group had crested the summit of the fourth climb where Walsleben secured the mountains jersey by winning the KOM sprint, the going got too tough for Ovechkin. At the 122km mark, the Russian had to let his companions go, leaving just five riders to pres on.

 

Stachowiak won the second intermediate sprint before the peloton crossed the line 2.30 later. At this point, Lampre-Merida had come to the fore to share the work with Cannondale-Drapac.

 

Xu Gang (Lampre-Merida) and Bauer took some huge turns as they hit the finishing circuit 1.50 behind the leaders. Meanwhile, Walsleben fell off the pace in the front group and at the start of the second lap, there were only four leaders.

 

Chun Kai Feng (Lampre-Merida), Marangoni and Xu were riding on the front of the peloton and had brought the gap down to 30 seconds as they went around the penultimate lap. With 15km to go, it was finally over for the escapees.

 

Lampre-Merida, Klein Constantia, PSK Whirlpool and CCC fought hard for position as they approached the line and in the end, it was the Italian team that came out on top. Modolo managed to beat Wouter Wippert and Matteo Malucelli in the final dash to the line to take his third win of the year.

 

With the second place, Wippert takes the leader’s jersey with a six-second advantage over his teammates Sebastian Langeveld, Patrick Bevin, Ruben Zepuntke and Kristoffer Skjerping. He faces a much harder test in tomorrow’s queen stage. After a relatively flat 30km, the riders will hit the first of four early climbs that come in quick succession, with the final summit coming with 80.1km to go. From there, they will descend to the difficult 10.5km finishing circuit which they will cover thrice. It includes the short, steep climb of Ecce Homo whose top comes just 5.7km from the finish and from there it is a downhill run to the line.

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