Geren Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty) powered to his first victory of the season on the final day of racing at the Challenge Mallorca – Trofeo Palma. Thijssen was the strongest once he hit the front and unleashed his run to the line after his new leadout survived the chaotic final run into Palma.
The Belgian out-jumped Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X Mobility) to the front and was never passed, with the Norwegian settling for second and Marijn van den Berg (EF-Education EasyPost) taking third.
“What a pleasure to reward my teammates who controlled the whole race and launched me in a perfect way,” said Thijssen via the team’s press release.
“Our plan was to wait for the final lap to go to the front with my train, which wasn’t easy at all in the midst of the chaos. I followed Adrien Petit and asked Laurenz Rex to stay in my slipstream, in case he would be able to launch me in the final kilometres. Which he did to perfection.
“With such a lead out, I had confidence, I knew it would be difficult to pass me. The team puts confidence in me, which was reflected in the fantastic team around me today to help me win, a new train to enable me to make a step forward.”
Soudal-QuickStep were in pole position going into the final few corners, but their train disintegrated and lost position among the shoulder-barging and jostling for position, with Yves Lampaert their top finishes in ninth.
Day five and the final day of racing at Challenge Mallorca produced another six-man group up the road with most of the undulating terrain coming in the opening half of the parcours before the flat laps of the island’s capital – Palma.
The riders to benefit were Diego Uriarte (Equipo Kern Pharma), Samuele Zoccarato (VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), Yentl Vandevelde (Team Flanders-Baloise), Joan Albert Riera (Illes Balears Arabay Cycling), Laurent Gervais (Project Echelon Racing) and Noé Ury (Team Storck-Metropol Cycling), but they were rarely out of the peloton’s reach with a bunch sprint expected.
Racing came back together with 26km to ride and a fast few laps of Palma to follow. City-centre racing bred high speeds and a drawn-out fight for position. Small attacks were launched off the front inside the final 20km, but it wasn’t out of control for those wanting the sprint.
Bora-Hansgrohe chanced their hand through Anton Palzer before one of his teammates launched for the line with 10km and thought he’d won, only to his embarrassment when he dropped back into the charging peloton.
The tight city-centre corners gave everyone a preview of what was to come on the final lap, stringing out the peloton in the final 5km. Tudor Pro Cycling and Uno-X Mobility were the most prominent teams on the front until Soudal-QuickStep showed all their pedigree as a sprinting team.
Trying to repeat their exploits from the Trofeo Ses Salines-Felanitx midweek with Paul Magniers and Luke Lamperti, Matteo Cattaneo, Yves Lampaert and Gianni Moscon began to try and position the young fast-men.
Everything would come unstuck for the Belgian side in the final 2km after their train came unstuck and Lamperti was forced to stop his efforts and concede it wasn’t his day on the team radio.
Kristoff and Alberto Dainese (Tudor) were the best-placed sprinters going into the final run to the line, but from behind it was Intermarché-Wanty who started to appear with Thijssen sat in the wheel.
The Belgian hit the accelerator and roared across the line in Palma with neither Kristoff nor anyone else behind able to match his closing speed.
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