Jelle Wallays wins in Argentina
Attacking instincts lead Wallays to Vuelta a San Juan stage win
Last night Jelle Wallays claimed the victory on the sixth stage of Vuelta a San Juan, as he successfully completed an early breakaway. The new season couldn't start any better for the Belgian after the previous season ended abruptly because of the consequences of a crash at the Vuelta. For Lotto Soudal this is already the fourth victory of 2018.
In theory the sixth stage suited the sprinters, but the riders needed to be attentive for possible echelons on the Argentine plains. Early down the stage a large breakaway of seventeen riders was formed, including Jelle Wallays. They never had more than three minutes lead and in the last fifteen kilometres the gap was only half a minute. Nonetheless, that turned out to be sufficient for a breakaway rider to take the victory. Especially because of the strength of Jelle Wallays.
Thirteen kilometres before the finish Jelle Wallays and Fausto Masnada created a small gap at the front, but their companions could catch them. Wallays attacked again with five kilometres to go. His opponents were breathing down his neck, but the Lotto Soudal rider didn't give up and he was rewarded with the stage win. He had two seconds advantage left at the finish. Robigzon Oyola got second, Travis McCabe third. Iljo Keisse finished fourth. And the chasing peloton arrived twelve seconds after Wallays.
I have felt good all week long and I have been able to do my job for the team. It's fantastic to start the season this way.
Jelle Wallays: "I saw the others coming closer in the last kilometre, but I kept riding my own pace. We had done a recon of the last kilometres before the start and I knew that I had to save some energy for the last 900 metres as there was a headwind."
"When we escaped the bunch I knew we had a chance of battling for the stage win, because it was a large front group and I didn't expect the GC riders would bother. But we would have to work together and that wasn't always the case. Luckily our advantage turned out to be enough."
"I know that when I make a race hard, I am one of the strongest in tough circumstances like the heat here in Argentina. I have felt good all week long and I have been able to do my job for the team. It's fantastic to start the season this way. There's a great atmosphere in the team and we took initiative on each stage. Today we were rewarded with the stage win."
"I don't win often and so it is wonderful to cross the finish as a winner. I'm very happy. It can only get better. This shows that I had a good winter after my injuries. Together with Wim Van Hoolst from Energy Lab and my brother and trainer Arne I worked hard towards this new season; this victory proves that I stand where I need to."