Quick-Step Floors won the opening team time trial stage of the inaugural Adriatica Ionica Race, beating UAE Team Emirates into second place on the 23km course at Lido di Jesolo. Elia Viviani was first across the line for Quick-Step and will wear the leader's jersey on stage 2.
The Quick-Step line-up, which featured Niki Terpstra, James Knox and Davide Martinelli, hurtled around the course at an average speed of 54.895kph to take the stage honours by 14 seconds from UAE Team Emirates.
Speaking after the stage, Viviani paid particular tribute to the efforts of Terpstra and Danish youngster Kasper Asgreen.
"The two locomotives today were Niki Terpstra and young Kasper Agreen, who hasn't been a professional for long but who is doing very well," Viviani said. "I did what I could and my teammates were very good. We also wanted to have Knox and Jhonatan Narvaez finish with us, because we’re thinking about the GC. There's only one hard stage [stage 3] and they can defend themselves on the Passo Giau."
Trek-Segafredo placed third, a further two seconds back, while Mark Cavendish's Dimension Data squad took fourth on the stage, 34 seconds down on Quick-Step. Gazprom-Rusvelo were the only other team to finish within a minute of Quick-Step, coming in 38 seconds down in fifth on the stage.
UAE Team Emirates were the early pace-setters, recording the best time at the midway point. When Quick-Step passed the same mark in the same time as UAE Team Emirates shortly afterwards, the stage seemed set for a tight duel, but the Belgian squad pulled away on the back end of the course to take a commanding victory.
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Once again, the final stage of the Tour de Beauce proved to be decisive, with James Piccoli (Team Canada) overtaking Serghei Tvetcov (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) for the overall win after driving a race-long breakaway. Pier-André Côté (Silber Pro Cycling), the winner of stage 1, took the final stage win.
Piccoli, who had won the previous stage, went from 14th to eighth to first in the General Classification over the course of the last two stages. He is the first Canadian winner of Beauce since Svein Tuft in 2008, and the first winner from the host province of Quebec since Jacques Landry in 1994.
The final circuit stage through the streets of Saint-Georges is deceptively hard, with a steep 1.5km climb on each of the dozen 10.2km laps, plus 18 corners requiring constant braking and acceleration. It has led to many a race leader losing on the final stage, as rivals attack repeatedly, putting the yellow jersey and their team under pressure. Last year, Andzs Flakis (Holowesko-Citadel) also jumped from eighth to win the title on the final day.
Team Canada had shown in the fourth stage, in Quebec City, that they had the power, with three riders in the winning break. A group of nine riders broke clear on the first lap – Piccoli and teammate Jordan Cheyne, Matteo Dal Cin (Rally), Bruno Langlois (Equipe du Quebec), Côté, Joseph Lewis (Holowesko-Citadel), Jonathan Brown (Hagens Berman Axeon), Daniel Whitehouse (Interpro Stradalli) and Timothy Rugg (Ride with Rendall).
The group had two danger riders – Piccoli at 1:10 back and Whitehouse at 1:34. Initially, all the riders in the break were working to open a gap and it widened quickly, as UnitedHealthcare appeared to struggle with the pace on the climb. By the second lap the gap was over a minute and small chase groups were attempting to bridge; none successfully. Tvetcov's team limited the damage and looked to be pulling it back on the third lap with the time split dropping to 40 seconds, but the Team Canada riders – Piccoli and Cheyne – were pushing the pace at the front, and the peloton fractured under the pressure, and began to fall back.
By the mid-way point of the race, the gap was approaching two minutes and Piccoli was the virtual leader. The lead briefly surged to 2:20 with 35 kilometres to go, before stabilising at 1:50. Piccoli also had to worry about Whitehouse, who had been picking up bonus seconds in the bonus sprints, and attacked with three laps to go, just as Piccoli lost Cheyne to a crash in a corner.
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