A long-expected day has finally come, and Team Colombia’s second season has got to a start on Wednesday, February 6th at the Tour Méditerranéen, in France. It wasn’t the easiest of days for the Team directed by Oscar Pellicioli and Oliverio Rincon, who had to endure tough weather and several crashes during a 146,5 km first stage from Limoux to Gruissan, who came to the hands of Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol). The German sprinter clinched his fourth seasonal win by edging Italian Matteo Pelucchi (IAM) and French Maxime Daniel (Sojasun) in the mass kick to the line.
Team Colombia’s Fabio Duarte, Jarlinson Pantano, Carlos Julian Quintero and Juan Pablo Suarez came home in the main pack after a day spent in cold weather, strong wind and persistent rain in Southern France. The team found himself down a piece at the start in Limoux, after stomach issues forced Leonardo Duque to delay his debut with Colombia. Will Routley (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Théo Vimpère (BigMat-Auber 93) and Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille) led the way for most of the day, after breaking clear in the early going, while strong wind and a nervous peloton led to several crashes in the pack, involving among others Team Colombia’s Juan Esteban Arango, Alexis Camacho and Esteban Chaves.
“It was a very hectic day out there,” stated Sports Director Oscar Pellicioli, “when the season starts the teams are always very nervous, and wind and weather did the rest. Luckily, it seems that none of our guys reported any major consequences from their crashes.”
The three escapees were reeled in with less than 10 km to the line, when Greipel’s Lotto-Belisol definitely took control of the operations, eventually being rewarded by another powerful sprint by the German.
Tomorrow, the Team will face the first time trial of the season, a 24 km test from Cap d’Agde to Sete. The race is likely to be decided in the final 2 km, when the road will point up severely to the Mont Saint Clair, a short and steep climb with a 15% average gradient.
“It will definitely be an atypical finish, but time trial bikes are still going to be the best choice, even though we will make some adjustments to increase agility for the uphill finish. We will face a lot of TTs in 2013, so it is important to stay focused and get the best out of ourselves in this early test,” Pellicioli said.