By Susan Westemeyer
Sergey Lagutin of the American Professional Continental team Navigators outfoxed the sprinters in the first stage of the Rheinland Pfalz Rundfahrt, breaking away 20 kilometres before the finish line to snatch the win away from the sprinters.
But his wasn't the only escape by a member of the team. "We wanted to be involved and proactive, and Darren Lill got the action going with a strong solo attack on the day's first climb [25 km]," Team manager Ed Beamon told Cyclingnews. "T-Mobile worked hard to bring him back, but the field was in pieces from the effort.
"It came back together, and later, our guys had to do the work to contain a dangerous break they had missed." That break consisted of three riders who stayed away for about 90 kilometres.
"T-Mobile led most of the middle of the race, but the headwind had tired them, and Lagutin's attack with 20 kilometres to go was not contained," Beamon continued. "Sergey was very strong to hold the chase off, and very excited to get his first win of the season." The 26 year-old Uzbekistan road champion had a lead of up to one minute on his escape, and was able to finish ahead of the approaching sprinters with 16 seconds advantage.
Stage two "is really tough, but the team is motivated, and we'll try to protect Sergey's lead," Beamon concluded.