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The Lampre sprinter beats Swift and Meersman in the sprint at the end of a wet and windy day to take his third victory for Lampre-Merida and his second in just two days

CHALLENGE MALLORCA

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GIANNI MEERSMAN

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SACHA MODOLO

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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10.02.2014 @ 16:13 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

24 hours after winning the Trofeo Palma, Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) continued his impressive start with Lampre-Merida when he added today's second race in the Challenge Mallorca, Trofeo Ses Salines, to his palmares. At the end of a very wet and windy day on the Balearic island, the Italian beat Ben Swift (Sky) and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) to take what is already the third win this season.

 

Lampre-Merida have no reason to regret their decision to sign Sacha Modolo and give him a chance to show his capabilities on the WorldTour after several years at pro continental level. One day after winning the Trofeo Palma, he emerged as the strongest in the second race of the Challenge Mallorca race series, Trofeo Ses Salines.

 

Again his Lampre-Merida teammates showed full confidence in their fast teammate and make sure to control the day's early breakaway. On a wet and windy day, they took responsibility for the chase and made sure that things came back together for a bunch sprint.

 

At one point, they found themselves under threat when Omega Pharma-Quick Step decided to use the wet and windy conditions to attack their rivals and at one point the peloton was split into three different groups. However, things came back together and the only things that could potentially threaten a bunch sprint were the many crashes that happened due to the very slick conditions.

 

Lampre-Merida avoided all troubles and in the end, they delivered their sprinter perfectly to the line. He held off Ben Swift and Gianni Meersman to take his third win in 2014, adding to yesterday's victory and the one he took in the final stage of the Tour de San Luis.

 

The race series continues tomorrow with the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and Modolo is highly unlikely to make it three in a row. The race sends the riders up two category 2 and two category 3 climbs in the early part of the stage and ends with the category 1 Col de Puig Major whose top is located just 20km from the finish. After two days for the sprinters, it is time for the climbers to come to the fore in the race that was last year won by Alejandro Valverde.

 

A lumpy course

After yesterday's pancake flat Trofeo Palma, the Challenge Mallorca riders could expect a hard race in today's 183km Trofeo Ses Salines. With four category 4 climbs on the menu, the race was slightly lumpy and with exposed roads and plenty of wind, things could potentially split up. Nonetheless, a bunch sprint was always the expected outcome of the race.

 

There was no big fight to be part of today's early break and already after 9km Bjorn Thurau (Europcar) and Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) had built up a 40-second gap over the peloton. However, a number of the smaller team had missed the move and so Illart Zuazubiskar (Euskadi), Pablo Torres (Burgos), Emanuel Piaskowy (ActiveJet) and Coen Vermeltfoort (De Rijke) set off in pursuit.

 

A 7-rider front group

After a short chase, Antonio Molina (Caja Rural) latched onto the chase group and after 15km the two first groups came together to form a 7-rider front group. At that time, they were already 3.50 ahead of the peloton which was content with the situation.

 

The group had built up a gap of 7.40 by the time Torres beat Thurau and Molina at the top of the day's first climb after 29.5km of racing. The peloton decided that it was enough of an advantage and started to bring it back.

 

Many crashes

At the 42km mark, Molina beat Thurau and Vermeltfoort in the first intermediate sprint and at that time the gap had come down to 7.20. A little later Torres beat Barta and Vermeltfoort at the top of the second climb with a largely unchanged gap.

 

In the first special sprint, at the 61km mark, Vermeltfoort beat Torres and Molina but at that time rain started to fall. This caused a number of crashes in the peloton that ended the race for Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), with Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka) also throwing in the towel.

 

Lampre start to chase

The many crashes forced the peloton to slow down a bit which reopened the gap to a maximum of 9.50. That was as much as Lampre-Merida could allow and the Italian team now started to chase.

 

At the 92km mark, Vermeltfoort beat Torres and Thurau in the sprint on the third climb and at that time there advantage was down to 7.30. A little later Barta had an unfortunate puncture and the Czech TT specialist had to use some energy before rejoining the front group.

 

The peloton splits in the crosswind

Vermeltfoort again beat Torres and Piakowsky to win the next intermediate sprint but at that time the real drama happened in the peloton. As they had also done in the Tour of Qatar, Omega Pharma-Quick Step decided to split things in the crosswinds and suddenly the peloton had broken into three groups.

 

The front group was made up of Gorka Izagirre, Andrey Amador, Francisco Ventoso (all Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe, Michael Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Meersman, Pieter Serry, Matteo Trentin, Petr Vakoc, Thomas De Gendt (all Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Jens Debusschere (Lotto Belisol). The second group was dominated by Sky and the British team made sure that the first two pelotons merged.

 

Things come back together

The acceleration had brought the gap down to 3.50 but as the first group slowed down a bit, all groups came back together. At the same time, Zuazubiskar and Piaskowy were dropped from the front group and they were quickly swallowed up by the main group.

 

At the 124km mark, Vermeltfoort beat Molina and Thurau in the final special sprint, meaning that the Dutchman was the winner of both the sprints and the special sprints competitions. Torres took home the prize as king of the mountains.

 

The break splits up

The gap came gradually down  and when 33km remained, the escapees were only 1.30 ahead. At that point, Vermeltfoort was dropped from the front group and he was quickly back in the peloton.

 

The breakaway split again when Thurau and Torres dropped Molina and Barta and the front duo even managed to extend their advantage slightly. While the two chasers were caught, however, the pace increased again and with 21km to go, the duo was only 1.15 ahead.

 

Thurau on his own

Torres was unable to keep up with Thurau and fell back to the peloton while Thurau battled on for a little while. Behind, Omega Pharma-Quick Step again tried to split things up but this time they had no luck with their mission.

 

On the day's final climb, Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Yury Trofimov (Katusha), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural),  Cesare Benedetti (NetApp) and Igor Merina (Burgos) bridged across to Thurau, with Trofimov, Benedetti and Tiralongo being the first three riders at the top. The peloton, however, was now going at full speed and they quickly brought things back together.

 

All was now set for a big bunch sprint and again Modolo emerged as the strongest. While the peloton splintered to pieces during the fast run-in to the finish, the Italian held off Swift and Meersman to take his second win in a row.

 

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