Stagiaires Mikkel Honoré and Barnabás Peák impress in tough Italian one-day race.
Gran Piemonte gave a cold welcome to the riders lining out in Racconigi for the 102nd edition of the race, who had to face low temperatures and pouring rain on Thursday, when they embarked for 190 slightly undulating kilometers which took the pack to Stupinigi, a small town lying on the outskirts of Torino.
Mikkel Honoré was the one to attack first as soon as the flag dropped and was quickly joined by three riders, who changed pulls at the front with the Circuit de Wallonie winner, padding their maximum lead to three minutes, a gap which prompted a response from the teams who had an interest of seeing the penultimate one-day race of the week come down to a bunch sprint.
Despite a valiant effort, Mikkel was reabsorbed by the peloton with 50 kilometers to go, together with this companions, but attacks continued, and soon Matti Breschel (EF Education First) and Andriy Grivko (Astana) found themselves in the lead with a hefty advantage that, considering the conditions and a crash which took out a big chunk of the bunch, looked encouraging.
In the end, it was to no avail, as the group brought them back and prepared for the finish, which was perturbed by another crash, an incident a rider tried to capitalize by attacking. That was the moment when another Quick-Step Floors stagiaire, 19-year-old Barnabás Peák, took the front and masterfully guided the group on the slippery roads, putting down the watts and making the catch some 700 meters from the line.
The Hungarian Champion also made sure of bringing teammate Florian Sénéchal close to the front, where the Frenchman bided his time before kicking out and crossing the line in second, just behind Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida). Peák – who, as Honoré, raced his final event with the team as stagiaire – made it two Quick-Step Floors riders in the top 10, after coming home in ninth place, despite his huge effort.
"I felt really good today, and even though there was driving rain from start to finish, I was in my element, confident I could get a nice result", said Florian, a top 3 finisher this season also at Dwars door West-Vlaanderen and Grand Prix d'Isbergues. "The team protected me throughout the day and did a lot of work, especially Eros and the two stagiaires. Barnabás was truly remarkable in the last kilometers and I think I could have won, if not for Colbrelli starting his sprint with 300 meters to go, thus surprising me. I would have loved to take the victory, but on the other hand, I am glad to have such a good shape so late into the season."
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