Clarke finishes fourth overall at Sibiu Cycling Tour
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling claim several stage podiums, valuable racing prep ahead of Tour of Utah
SIBIU, Romania – UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling continued its European racing campaign at the Sibiu Cycling Tour (2.1) this past week, coming away with several podium spots, fourth place overall and perhaps most importantly, valuable race preparation for the upcoming Tour of Utah at the beginning of August.
“It’s good and hard racing here in the Romanian mountains,” team director Seba Alexandre said. “You can only compare this kind of races with Tour of the Gila in the domestic calendar, so it is good preparation for Utah and Colorado.”
Stage by stage
A 2.3km prologue on a 19-corner pave course started the Sibiu Tour. Carlos Alzate, exceptional on technical courses, shined with a third place finish.
The opening 211km stage saw Sebastian Haedo finish top 15. The next day, the team had a fantastic race with Jonny Clarke finishing in third place and moving up to third overall in the GC standings. The queen stage featured a 23km uphill finish after 160km of racing.
Jaramillo was the first rider from UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling to attack on the final climb. When he was caught, Clarke sent an attack inside the final kilometer and was caught just before the line. Acevedo finished seventh on the stage, which moved him up to fifth on GC.
“Today went great, we had Alzate and Haedo doing a lot work on the flat to set us up for the climb, then it was up to Janier Acevedo, Daniel Jaramillo, Lachlan Norris and myself to see what we could do,” Clarke said. “The Androni rider (Egan Bernal) was the strongest by far, but tomorrow is another day, it’s been a great euro block so far.”
At 215 kilometers, stage 3 was another long and difficult parcours, punctuated with three long classified climbs and 14km final ascent.
On the approach to the final decisive climb, attacks flew off the front.
“Our guys tried to follow, but after 5kms, the group split in several small groups and Jonny was the only one remaining in a group of eight riders,” Alexandre said.
“From there the race leader, Bernal took off and was joined by two other riders.”
Clarke joined the chase group of four riders, but had to work while his closest rival on GC, fourth placed Valentin Baillifard, sat on because a teammate was up the road. In the end, Baillifard got a jump on Clarke and claimed a five second bonus at the line, which bumped Clarke off the podium.
The final stage was an unfortunate one, with four UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling riders crashing with 2 km to go.
“Acevedo was just starting the lead out and another rider took him down,” Alexandre said. “They were all lined up, so no one could avoid it. Acevedo, Norris, Alzate and Haedo crashed. There were broken bikes and wheels, but no one was hurt badly. Alzate had pain in his wrist and ribs, so we will wait to see, but the rest was surface wounds.
Clarke was last one in the train and avoided the pile up to maintain his fourth place on GC.
“We lost a good chance for stage win today but it’s bike racing,” Alexandre said. “Overall, we finished a good trip to Europe. Now is time to recover from the races and the crash and get ready for Utah.”
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team’s next race is ASWB Boise Twilight Criterium on July 15.