Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) continued where he left off in the Tour de San Luis, following up his stage 7 victory on the final day of the South American race with a first win on European soil for 2014 in the Trofeo Palma leg of the Mallorca challenge.
The first day sprint in the capital of the Balearic islands is a notoriously tricky one, coming after 10 laps on a broad flat boulevard, with the road sweeping steadily to the right as it approaches the finish on an exposed seafront - making it difficult to control in the least of breezes. And although there was no real cross-wind for once, Modolo still had to fend off a serious challenge from second placed Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol) and Dylan Groenewegen (De Rijke), the latter so convinced he had won he raised his arms.
But the 26-year-old Lampre-Merida sprinter pulled out all the stops to claim the victory and consolidate the former Bardiani rider’s shift during the off-season into the first WorldTour team of his career.
“Max” [Lampre-Merida team-mate Massimo Richeze] “did the work of three or four men putting me into place,” Modolo told Cyclingnews as he waited to go up onto the podium. “The team had to work very hard controlling the breaks and then I was only with Max at the end and I went for it from quite a long way out. Three or four riders came up to me really close to the line because I was fading 30 or 40 metres from the line and it ended up being a photo-finish. Somebody else put their hands up but it was me who won!”
Following his early start to the season at San Luis - where he won stage two in 2013, too, in a tricky uphill sprint - Modolo said that he was happy to have proved to himself that, after a short break between racing, he had come back to Europe and got back into racing again in top shape.
“I am pleased because after Argentina I spent a week at home and I didn’t really know if I was going to still be going ok or not coming into my first race in Europe this year,” he said. “So this is confirmation I’m on track and ready to go. The team worked so hard I’m really glad to be able to give them a reward.”
“Tomorrow’s race” - [Ses Salines - Sananyí (183 kilometres) - Ed.] - “may end a bunch sprint, too, I don’t know the roads because this is my first time in Mallorca, but either way we’ve got one win in the bag already and our morale will be good.”