Alvaro Hodeg took three top-five finishes at the Vuelta a San Juan late last month, but for a WorldTour sprinter, anything but the podium's top step is a disappointment. Hodeg got his revenge on Tuesday at Tour Colombia 2.1, however, taking out the stage 2 sprint in La Ceja, while San Juan rival Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was completely out of the picture.
It was Team Illuminate rider Martin Laas who was second, followed by UAE's Sebastian Molano.
"I was looking for the victory in Argentina," Hodeg said in the mixed zone after the stage. "I came so close three times there, but I was not able to get it. You keep trying, and now it happened for me, so I'm very happy.
"Nothing changed for me," he said of his success. "We knew what we came here to do. We did it without thinking about the other teams. I simply focused on what I needed to do, as always, for my sprint."
Hodeg was able to rely on the Deceuninck-QuickStep train to drop him off in perfect position, then he just needed to hold off the challengers all the way to the line. He handled his final role easily.
"The victory today was more than myself, it was because of my team," he said. "They did an impressive job - Jungels, Iljo, Alaphillipe - they all did everything they could for me, and so now I appreciate all the work they did for me. I believe this victory is more theirs than mine.
"I believe we have the best lead-out train in the world," he continued. "It's something that motivates me to continue to work hard and earn many more victories for Colombia."
Hodeg also earned the race lead for his efforts, with a time bonus for the stage win bumping him ahead of overnight leader Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First), although he said the GC wasn't part of the team goals. But now Deceuninck-QuickStep is in the position of defending Hodeg's jersey with two more likely sprint stages ahead before the mountains loom on stages 5 and 6.
"I think the stage tomorrow is a little more difficult than it looks on the profile," Hodeg said. "We raced the same climb that is in tomorrow's stage in one of our national races three years ago. After the climb there was about 20 or 30 riders left, so I believe it will be harder than it was today."
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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