Paul Magnier (Soudal-QuickStep) got his professional career off to the perfect start with victory in the Trofeo Ses Salines-Felanitx after a perfect lead-out from his fellow neophyte Luke Lamperti.
The pair were making their debuts for Soudal-QuickStep after sitting out the opening day of the Challenge Mallorca on Wednesday, and they proved to be immediately up to speed on the requirements at this level with their canny management of the finale.
Lamperti led the bunch into the sharp final left-hand corner with Magnier tucked safely on his wheel, and the Frenchman came around him to claim an emphatic victory. Alberto Dainese (Tudor) came through for second, while Lamperti had the strength to hold on to third ahead of last year’s winner Marijn van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost).
“The idea for the team was to win and they put their confidence in me, but it was harder for me to think that way because I hadn’t won as a pro yet,” Magnier said. “But when I saw the work of the team in the closing kilometres, I said to myself I couldn’t do anything else but win. My mindset changed.”
The race traditionally provides a bunch finish, and a number of established sprinters including Arnaud Démare (Arkéa-Samsic) and Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X) opted to start their season at this event, but it was one of the least experienced fast men in the bunch who prevailed at the end of the day’s 181km of racing.
“We wanted to come strong with two young guys and we were able to come here and win with Paul. It’s the first day with the team for both of us, so it’s incredible,” Lamperti said.
“It was a really fast day and everybody was quite fresh but we were able to come to the front with some strong guys. Gianni Moscon and then Yves Lampaert took us to the roundabout and from there, I was able to go to the last corner. Then Paul went from the corner to the line, so you could say it went perfectly for such a messy sprint.”
How it unfolded
After Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost) beat Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) to the line on a combative opening day, the second event of the Challenge Mallorca was always likely to offer a different kind of challenge, with a succession of sprinters signing on in Ses Salines for their first action of the season.
With so many teams invested in a bunch finish, there was little scope for attackers to upset the odds, but four enterprising escapees nonetheless animated the proceedings early on. Riccardo Lucca (VF Group – Bardiani CSF – Faizanè), Victor Vercouillie (Flanders-Baloise), Edgar Curto (Illes Balears Arabay Cycling) and Ethan Craine (Project Echelon Cycling) forged clear and struck up a decent working relationship, but the coalition of sprinters’ teams behind meant their endeavour was never going to result in victory.
Lucca and Vercouillie were the last men standing from the move, and they entered the final 30km still clutching a lead of just over a minute, though their advantage was being carefully managed by Uno-X and Arkéa-B&B Hotels in particular.
They were eventually swept up with 13km remaining, and the pace gradually ratcheted up on the wide and flat roads on the run-in. No one team seized control, as is the norm in 2020s sprinting, but Soudal-QuickStep timed their surge better than anyone. After Mattia Cattaneo and Gianni Moscon had been prominent on the run-in, Yves Lampaert helped to pilot Lamperti and Magnier into position ahead of the technical finale.
Lamperti proceeded to lead a lined-out peloton into the sharp final corner, and the tight line he took through it helped to ensure they stayed out in front in the finishing straight, where Magnier produced a fine sprint to claim the honours.
“I was coming with speed, but it was not enough,” Dainese said after placing second. “As a sprinter you’re always disappointed when you don’t win, but we’ll go again on Sunday.”
There was a similar mix of frustration and perspective for Kristoff, who placed 10th. “We lacked a bit of manpower in the last 2k,” he said. “We tried to keep the team in front because it was a big chaos, but we got a bit swarmed, and I didn’t find a good position into the last corner. But it’s the first race, it’s never easy.”
It never is, but this wasn’t Magnier and Lamperti’s first race together, of course. The pair raced with Trinity last season and they are set to rotate sprinting duties in Mallorca, with the American likely to be the focus of their efforts at the concluding Trofeo Palma on Sunday.
“It was Tom Steels who decided I would be the sprinter today, he saw my sprints at the training camp this winter,” Magnier said. “Sunday will be a sprint again, and that will normally be for Luke Lamperti. It’s good to give us turns to have a go in the sprint.”
Results powered by FirstCycling