Van Wilder braves the rain to finish third in Mallorca
The risk of snow forced the Challenge Mallorca organisers to cut the course of Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana Saturday afternoon to just 123 kilometers, but despite this and the presence of just two climbs separated by a long valley, the race was action-packed from the very beginning, and this was in part due to the Soudal Quick-Step riders, who pushed the pedal to the metal through the nagging rain from the first slopes of the day.
The Wolfpack stormed to the front of the peloton, ramping up the speed the first time up the Coll Femenies and forcing a major selection. But the situation quickly changed, when Julian Alaphilippe had to drop out of the 25-man group due to a mechanical. The double World Champion – a top 10 finisher in Trofeo Calvia a few days ago – had to wait for the car to make its way through the caravan before starting a long chase that eventually saw him return to the group.
As soon as Alaphilippe returned, his countryman Rémi Cavagna took off, launching one of his trademark solo attacks which spread panic in the bunch. It took a coalition of several teams to bring back the Frenchman, despite a maximum gap of just 50 seconds, but our team remained on the offensive even after this, and sent both Andrea Bagioli and Ilan Van Wilder up the road. The duo booked their place in a strong leading group which pretty soon became clear would fight for victory in Lloseta.
The short uphill finish was right up Andrea’s alley, but a puncture eight kilometers from the line took him out of contention. It was left to Ilan to carry the flag for the Wolfpack, and the 22-year-old Belgian didn’t disappoint from the group that arrived just a few seconds behind Kobe Goossens )Intermarche-Circus-Wanty). After three hours of riding in pouring rain and bone-chilling cold, Van Wilder still found the resources to accelerate on the small climb to the finish where he took third place for his first podium since joining Soudal Quick-Step.
“I think it was the best I could do today. When the attack came in the finale, it wasn’t up to me to close the gap. It’s a pith Andrea had that mechanical, otherwise I would have raced full gas for him. Third is a good result for me and I can be content with this result, it’s a nice performance I had here in these conditions, twenty-four hours after suffering in the cold. Now I want to conclude my time in Mallorca with some nice trainings”, said Ilan, who was named most combative rider of the race.
Photo credit: ©Dario Belingheri / Getty Images