Italian Riccardo Verza makes his professional debut with a 100-kilometre escape at the opening of Mallorca
XXIX Challenge de Mallorca
Trofeo Ses Salines – Felanitx (Ses Salines – Felanitx), 170,7 km
Diego Pablo Sevilla (bib 170), Alejandro Ropero (173), Antonio Puppio (175), Riccardo Verza (177), Giacomo Garavaglia (178), Mathias Larsen (181) and Daniel Viegas (182) completed this Thursday the competitive debut of the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team this season. A premiere where four of the members of the ‘seven’ proposed by Jesús Hernández and Dario Andriotto faced their first day within professionalism. The Italian Riccardo Verza stood out especially in this debut, being one of the great protagonists of the race during more than 100 kilometres thanks to a break in which he rode with other three cyclists.
There was a desire for competitive cycling within the European calendar and the best sign came with the many offensive movements that took place from the opening flag of this 29th edition of the Challenge of Mallorca. Diego Pablo Sevilla from Madrid tried his luck with five other riders. But it would be a quartet composed by the Belgian Remy Mertz (Lotto-Soudal), the also Belgian Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), the Swiss Claude Imhof (Swiss Team) and the mentioned Verza who managed to consolidate their break.
The four, in the vanguard for kilometre 15, would quickly consolidate an advantage that for much of this first trophy of the 2020 Challenge oscillated between four and five minutes. A phase of the race with a very lively pace, with the average of 46 km/h in the second hour as the best exponent. Around kilometre 120 of the race, Verza ended up losing contact with his other three runners, a circumstance that would also occur with Van Poucke a few kilometres later.
Mertz and Imnhof started a pulse with a platoon that in the last third of the day began to roll at a high speed driven by the interests of the teams with sprinters. Both, despite resisting in the last kilometers with a few seconds of margin would be hunted down near the finish line in Felanitx. The forecast of the sprint was fulfilled to the letter and in the volata an old acquaintance of the continental structure of the Alberto Contador Foundation, the Italian Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) won the race. Moschetti beat the German Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the Spanish Jon Aberasturi (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). The Italian Giacomo Garavaglia, also a debutant in the category, signed an outstanding eleventh place for the Kometa-Xstra. “I was very close to the top ten and that’s why I’m a little disappointed, but it’s not a bad result to start with and this Friday we’ll have another chance,” he said. Twenty-first, Dane Mathias Larsen.
Riccardo Verza, after crossing the finish line: “I can never forget this day. My first day as a professional and a good part of the day riding on the runaway. In the team we had the mission to be very attentive to any movement that might occur. Diego was very attentive at the beginning and I picked up his baton. Once on the run we understood each other very well, always in relay. We went all day in full swing. In the area with the most steep slopes I started to suffer and there came a moment when I was really tired. It has been a nice experience, I hope to repeat it in the next days”.
Another of the Kometa-Xstra debutants was Alejandro Ropero from Granada, 24 at the finish line: “If I had to define this first day in the office in one word, I would say ‘vertigo’. It has gone very fast all day and being the first race of the year you always notice that lack of competition rhythm. The more kilometres we drove, the better I felt, the better my legs were doing. At the end of the day it was difficult to see a massive sprint like this. The best thing is that none of us fell. Every day you learn something and we discovered what real sprints are like.
This Friday the Serra de Tramuntana Trophy will be contested between Sóller and Deià over 160.5 kilometres. This is the most demanding of the four races in this edition, given the passage, partially modified by the damage caused by the Gloria storm, by the payments of the Puig Major. The Kometa-Xstra will compete with a team made up of Diego Pablo Sevilla, Daniel Viegas, Giacomo Garavaglia, Riccardo Verza, Márton Dina, Erik Fetter and Sergio García.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)