Modolo bounces back with well-calculated win in Ruta del Sol

Less than 48 hours after he was beaten at the line in the Ruta del Sol, Sacha Modolo (Team EF-Education First-Drapac) has taken his first victory of the season in stage 3 - by a wheel.

Modolo's win, his first since the Tour de Pologne last August, was not exempt from a certain amount of controversy, at least according to Movistar sprinter Carlos Barbero, who finished second. Barbero protested at Modolo's sprint tactics, but the commissaires did not uphold the Spaniard's claim and Modolo was confirmed as the winner.

The Italian denied any charges of illicit manoeuvres in the final kilometre and was understandably delighted at his first success for his new team. It also enabled him to gain closure on any embarrassment he may well have felt on Wednesday in Granada after thinking he had won, raising his arms in victory, then been forced to recognise he had missed out to Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie).

"I'm really happy, above all for the team, because they did so much work the last time [stage 1] and it didn't work out," Modolo said afterwards. "They did a great job today and it's nice it happened."

Asked about Barbero's protest, Modolo said simply, "I don't know what that was about. I'm sorry if he felt that, but in any case, I don't know what's going on behind me.

"When I went into the last corner, I was lying third, and I braked. But I honestly don't know where this protest is coming from.

"But it was a good finish for me, slightly uphill and at the end of a tough day with quite a few climbs. That suits me better than flatter stages.

"It's nice to get this win," team director Charly Wegelius added to Cyclingnews. "For sprinters, a lot of it is about confidence, so it's great to get one up on the board.

"It's quite a lot like in soccer if a striker goes two games without getting one in, they get a bit edgy, so it's nice to get one in.

"The thing that was good, too, and that goes for the other day, too, was how the team executed the work. We didn't just have him go in there and float him around, a lot of work went into it. We needed to control the race, particularly here where there aren't so many sprinters in big teams, and the team did that very well."

To that end, in the very last part of the stage, Wegelius said Team EF-Education First-Drapac had Simon Clarke, Sep Vanmarcke and Matti Breschel working for Modolo, with Breschel stepping up for last man duties because "unfortunately we lost Tom [Van Asbroeck] yesterday [Thursday] in a crash and he would have normally done that."

Modolo also paid tribute to Joe Dombrowski for doing a great deal of work early on in the stage to keep the break within striking distance and then Sebastian Langeveld for carrying on where Dombrowski left off.

"They're doing a fantastic job, they set me up just where I needed. Their confidence in me is really something special. I'm glad I could pay them back," Modolo concluded.

Last year, the team had to wait until Coppi e Bartali for their first win of the season, and now, thanks to Urán in Colombia and now Modolo in Andalucia, the team have two wins on the scoreboard.

"Winning's not everything, but it's good for everybody, that's why we race," Wegelius added. "We had a different kind of team last year, we've got Dan McLay and Sacha now and we've got some good horsepower behind them. It's nice to see the process behind them was good as well."

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