Tour de San Luis: Koning uses time trial skills to beat the pack

Dutch rider accepts he will lose the jersey on first mountain stage

Peter Koning upset the form book on the third stage of the Tour de San Luis, taking the first victory of his professional career. The day had been expected to end in yet another sprint finish with the likes of Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan going head to head but, unlike the previous day, the final escapee managed to foil the peloton.

Knowing that he would not be able to beat his companions in a run to the line, Koning decided to break free. It was a risky tactic, but the 25-year-old Koning is a former junior national time trial champion and utilised his skills to distance the chasing pack.

“I’m a time trial guy so I needed to go early, and I’m not a sprinter so I always want to go alone and try to get as much time as possible to get away quick,” Koning said after the stage. “As soon as the last climb started I was a few minutes in front, like three minutes 45. I just tried to keep a solid tempo, and I knew that if I hit the top of the climb with one minute that I had a good chance to win. I went up the climb with a solid pace and I got to the top two minutes in front, and I knew that I could win the stage.”

Koning is a second-year professional after joining the Pro Continental Drapac team in 2015. Thus far, all of his results have come in the time trial, and, in 2014, he won the team time trial at the Tour of Slovakia and the Tour of the Czech Republic. He finished 10th in the Dutch national championships last year and sixth in the prologue of the Tour of Japan.

“I’m a TT guy so this is my specialism, and I hope to get some good results in the time trial. After that I am a hard worker, and I do the lead-out for Wouter Wippert. We’ve got a new sprinter now so we are working hard for him. I am a strong guy and that’s what I do and sometimes I get the chance to be in the break, and that is what I did today,” he said.

“I always try to go into the breakaway to win. If you get the win, it is really special because I don’t get too many chances to win. I’m really happy to take the win.”

Koning had started the day over a minute and a half down on the race leader Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep). It was touch and go for the Dutchman but, helped by a 10-second bonus on the line, Koning goes into Thursday's stage with a six-second advantage. Stage 4 is, however, the first summit finish of the race and Koning is realistic about his chances of keeping hold of the kersey.

“I’m not a climber so it will be really hard to keep the jersey tomorrow,” said Koning. “I expect tomorrow that the boys like [Nairo] Quintana to take a couple of minutes on me so I will really enjoy the jersey now and I will enjoy it tomorrow, but after tomorrow it will belong to someone else.”

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