Linus Gerdemann looked to have Milram's second stage win at this year's Vuelta a Espana wrapped up – he was alone in the lead on the descent of the only ranked climb of the day, with only about 10 kilometres to go. But it wasn't to be, as a flat front tyre put an end to his dreams.
He had already managed to drop the only one who could keep up with him, Contentpolis' Aitor Perez, who also had a mechanical. Gerdemann, an expert descender, was zipping down the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo, when his front tyre flatted. None of the neutral service vehicles was able to get to him quickly on the narrow, twisting mountain road. One finally reached him and gave him the new tyre, but something must have been wrong, as the new tyre caused him to crash on the next curve.
By the time the 26-year-old finally got going again on the proper equipment, it was too late to do anything. He ended up finishing 8:33 down.
"If you lose because of such an unlucky material failure, that is of course very tragic," Milram General Manager Gerry van Gerwen told Cyclingnews. "But unfortunately things like that will always happen in sports."
Van Gerwen pointed out that up until that point everything had gone the way the team had planned. "You could see our plan today very clearly. We wanted to put our mark on the stage, be in the escape group, and if that hadn't worked, we would still have had Gerald Ciolek for a sprint," he said. "Everything worked out perfectly and Linus Gerdemann put in a classy performance."
Directeur Sportif Ralf Grabsch mourned the loss of "what we believed to be our second stage win." Himself a former rider, he knew that "the important thing now is to build up the team again and continue to motivate the riders".
Grabsch added that now the team "will do everything we can in the coming stages to get back our lost win".
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