Tim Wellens abandons Giro d'Italia
Illness forces the stage winner to leave the race
It was only his second race day and Tim Wellens already claimed his first victory of the season! For the second year in a row he was the best at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, one of the four races of the Challenge Mallorca.
The Trofeo was 140 kilometres long and contained six official climbs, starting with Coll de Sóller immediately after the start. Sondre Holst Enger, who sprinted to the second place yesterday, rode solo in front for a long time. On the Coll de sa Batalla, with top at about forty kilometres from the finish, the situation changed. Tim Wellens got in a front group with Brambilla, Moscon, Mühlberger and Valverde.
We knew you had to be first to enter the last corner at 200 metres from the finish. It was a fair sprint, man against man
Tim Wellens: "Our team started up the battle. We were all strong and made sure it was a hard day in the saddle. Valverde attacked uphill when Jasper De Buyst and Rémy Mertz were setting the pace. I responded to his attack and got in a front group of five. We were going really hard the first ten minutes and soon we had a few minutes advantage. It was clear that one of us would win the race."
"Moscon and I put pressure on Valverde during the descent of Puig Major. He lost contact and had to make an effort to join us again. Valverde, who had better legs uphill, tried to drop us on the last climb, but didn't succeed in his attempt. In the descent Moscon and I created a gap again. A sprint between the two of us would determine the winner. We knew you had to be first to enter the last corner at 200 metres from the finish. It was a fair sprint, man against man."
"It's great to win so soon. Yesterday we already had a great result with Jasper finishing third. Tomorrow is my last day. The course is less tough than today and it could be that a group of about twenty riders sprints for victory. But if it's bad weather, positioning will be crucial."
Jelle Vanendert abandoned early in the race after a crash, but luckily he only has some abrasions.
Tiesj Benoot finished fifth in the queen stage of the Argentine stage race Vuelta a San Juan. With two stages left to go, he is sixth on GC.