There was even more reason for the riders of Orica-GreenEdge to celebrate when Adis Kruopis took the opening stage and the overall race lead at Tour du Poitou Charentes yesterday. His third win of the year came just hours before Simon Clarke took his first professional victory at the Vuelta a España.
"I had a perfect lead out from Jens [Keukeleire] and Leigh [Howard]," said Kruopis. "Jens took over with one kilometre to go, and Leigh was the last rider in front of me. He dropped me off, and I sprinted to the line. It was a hard sprint because of a headwind, and I thought someone might pass me but nobody was close on the line," he said after the race.
The stage win and time bonuses gave the 25-year-old a slim one-second lead in the overall standings. Kruopis has enjoyed a number of wins this year after winning a stage at the Tour of Norway and Tour of Poland however, the Lithuanian had the benefit of experience during for the finale at the French race.
"Jens knew the finish," explained team director Lionel Marie. "He raced here two years ago and this finish was included then. That’s why we had him take charge of our sprint in the last kilometre. All three riders gave their maximum. Aidis finished off their effort and arrived two bike lengths ahead of everyone else. He made it look easy. It was a perfect day for us. We did our work, and we finished first," he said.
Kruopis is not expected to retain the overall lead throughout the race however he believes a number of his teammates should perform well in the coming days, mentioning Luke Durbridge for the upcoming time trial on stage 4.
"We are looking forward to the time trial. We have Durbridge who can perform very well," Kruopis said at the finish line.
Meanwhile at the Vuelta, it was Simon Clarke and his teammates who were also enjoying the spoils of victory. Clarke’s win in the mountain-top finish stage 4 was a "long time coming" said Clarke.
"I have been a professional for four years, and this is only my first professional win. I never imagined it would come in such a big way for me and the team. I couldn’t be any happier," said Clarke.
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