55th International Cycling Tour of the Aosta Valley – Mont Blanc
Stage 2: Rhêmes-Saint-Georges-Rhêmes-Notre-Dame (158.8 km)
The Dutchman Kevin Inkelaar won the second stage of the Giro della Valle d´Aosta, a mountainous day ending in Rhêmes-Notre-Dame, and made the eighth success of the season, the first without Matteo Moschetti’s signature, for the continental Polartec-Kometa. Inkelaar climbs to second place in the provisional general standings of the Transalpine race, 30 seconds behind Italian Matteo Bellia (IAM), the new leader.
It was a great day for the formation of the Contador Foundation, because to the success of the Dutchman it is added that Miguel Ángel Ballesteros finished sixth, 1:37 from his teammate, and Juan Pedro López finished in 13th place, 1:58. Polartec-Kometa, which was the only team with three riders in the top-15, is the new leader of the squad classification. Inkelaar is also the leader in the points classification and will be wearing the white jersey. “It’s been a great job for everyone,” Ballesteros says. “A great performance,” López says. The Sevillian remains fifth in the general classification.
Inkelaar built his success on a powerful attack within the last few kilometres, a bet that would eventually lead him to Bellia. The transalpine cyclist had attacked a few kilometers before and, little by little, had hunted first the British Donovan and then the Belgian Lauren Huys (Lotto Soudal), head of the race until then. When Inkelaar reached him at the end of the stage, they would stay together until the end. A final corner near the finish line, in which Kevin passed first, was key to the win. “I don’t believe it, I’m really very happy, very satisfied. It had not been my best year, I had doubts, I had not started some races as I thought…. And this victory came. I am very happy. We have worked very hard, we have made many sacrifices,” says an Inkelaar who has carefully prepared the Aostana appointment in Passo dello Stelvio.
“This victory was a bit of a surprise because when I started I didn’t know exactly how many riders were ahead. When I started out I was just thinking about getting as much time as possible. In my mind, the general. Before, when Miguel Ángel moved, I hadn’t felt particularly well, but I did notice that he was going fast. When they caught him, I moved. Full throttle. I narrowed the gap with two riders. I persevered. One of the assistants had warned me about the finish line”.
Before Inkelaar, Miguel Ángel Ballesteros from Murcia had tried it, although his attack was neutralised: “We started the final climb with about twenty riders or so, with two or three riders ahead. There was no understanding in that group and as we had three representatives I decided to start. I may have done a mile or two of running away from that group, but in the hard zone I was caught by about ten riders, or so, and just then Kevin started off and went to the top of the race alone. We have gathered a dozen cyclists, including Juanpe and myself. There were some attacks and I started again, with three kilometres to go. There I managed to go only forward”.
The day was not entirely perfect for the team, which lost Eritrean Awet Habtom and Colombian Wilson Peña due to crashes. Peña was involved in an incident with several other riders on a downward stretch during the first few kilometers. After being taken to hospital and underwent several medical tests, he was diagnosed with a small ankle fracture and had to receive several stitches in one knee. Habtom, on the other hand, fell down a small ravine during the descent of one of the scoring ports of the day. He was diagnosed with a head injury and a neck brace was placed on his neck.
This Friday, the riders will have to face 148.6 kilometres between Tavagnasco and Quassolo with three mountain passes on their route and the last one, the’second category’ Sorey, just seven kilometres away.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)