Thursday’s race marked Kasper Asgreen’s return in the pack.
Cold, wind and rain. Lots of rain. No, we’re not talking about Belgium here, but about the third race of the Challenge Mallorca, which this year replaced the usually sunny and warm weather that is one of the island’s trademarks with one more suited to the cobblestone classics. To add to the difficulties of the day, Trofeo Andratx – Mirador D’es Colomer also had a demanding course, peppered with four classified climbs, the last of which, averaging 6.2%, came in the final three kilometers.
But there was a reason to smile for Soudal Quick-Step, as Thursday marked the return of Kasper Asgreen to racing for the first time since a knee injury forced him to abandon last summer’s Tour de France. The Dane, who is aiming again for a strong Classics campaign, worked hard in the peloton in the early part of the race, setting a high tempo that dropped many riders before the action kicked off.
The race exploded on the very first climb, the moment double World Champion Julian Alaphilippe attacked, a move that caught many by surprise. As a result, only a handful of riders could follow him, and despite not having the numbers, they quickly established a 40-second gap over the bunch. But the race was far from over, and the chasers managed to bridge across after 80 kilometers, the newly-formed peloton numbering around 70 riders.
Helped by the rain and the wet roads that made it difficult for the large group to control things, two men got away on a descent with 75 kilometers to go and put more than two minutes between them and the field. Our riders took again the front and tried to claw back time, but despite their incredible effort, the move remained clear, and Kobe Goossenns (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) soloed to victory, while Julian Alaphilippe concluded the race as our best placed rider.
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