Andrea Bagioli keeps the good times rolling in Okolo Slovenska.
Soudal Quick-Step celebrated its 50th success of the season in Slovakia, where Andrea Bagioli made it a hat-trick of Wolfpack victories after an entertaining final ten kilometers on stage three of the race.
The Italian, who recently returned to competition after sickness made him abandon the Vuelta a few weeks ago, responded to an attack on the last ascent of the day, a 1.2km hill averaging 9.1%, was joined by yellow jersey Rémi Cavagna, and together with three other men, opened a nice gap on the chasers on the fast descent to Martin, Friday’s finish town.
Entering the closing kilometer, it looked like the small peloton would come back, but thanks to a great effort of Rémi, the quintet stayed clear and Andrea could kick with 150 meters to go, sailing to a comfortable victory, his sixth for Soudal Quick-Step. In the general classification, Cavagna increased his lead over the next rider to more than two minutes, as he got one step closer to becoming the first Frenchman since teammate Julian Alaphilippe to win Okolo Slovenska.
“It was the hardest stage of the week, but our team did a great job controlling the breakaway, and then, when the group got away on that steep climb in the last ten kilometers, I was lucky to have Rémi there, who worked hard for me. All that I had to do was finish it off, and to be able to win after the illness that forced me to abandon La Vuelta gives me a lot of confidence for the remaining races of the season. I’m really happy, and the fact that I am the one to sign off the team’s 50th win of the season is the cherry on the cake. It’s amazing that the Wolfpack hit this milestone again”, an elated Andrea explained.
His thoughts were echoed by those of Soudal Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere: “It’s for the ninth time in the last twelve years that the team reaches 50 victories, and the fact that we’ve done it with a dozen different riders speaks a lot about the strength of our squad and the fact we were always there in all the races since the very start of the season. It’s a beautiful achievement that should make everyone involved – riders, staff, sponsors, and fans – really proud.”
Photo credit: ©Jan Melicher