Although Aqua Blue sprinter Adam Blythe said he was disappointed after finishing third on the opening road stage of the Vuelta a España in Gruissan, the general feeling among his team-mates and the management of the Irish squad was upbeat.
It’s always a tough task for Pro Conti teams to make an impact when stepping up to a Grand Tour for the first time, and sports director Nicki Sorensen said his riders should be proud of their performance on the Vuelta’s second day.
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“It’s been a good start for us,” said the Aqua Blue DS. “Of course, we were hoping for the win and the boys did a wonderful job in the final kilometres of the stage to make that possible.
“They put Adam in a great position. It was very impressive to see them right up there at the right time on such a difficult stage. We can only be happy with that.”
The absence of the peloton’s leading sprinters reflects the mountainous nature of the Vuelta, but Sorensen believes his team’s showing on the road into Gruissan will benefit them over the next three weeks.
“Adam is a winner, so he’s not happy about third place, but seeing how the boys got him up there and how he went in the sprint will give all of us a lot of confidence the next time we have that same kind of opportunity,” he said.
“It was exactly the kind of impact we were hoping to make.”
Asked about the lack of a breakaway during the 200-kilometre windswept run down the Mediterranean coast, Sorensen responded: “It was a strange stage. In fact, I can’t really remember another one like it when there was no break at all, especially as the peloton didn’t go full gas all of the time.
“But I actually had a strong feeling before the start that a break would really struggle to get away and I told the riders exactly that this morning. I instructed them not to get into the break if one did form, because it was always likely to be a nervous stage [due to the wind], with the GC teams all marking each other closely.
“Perhaps all of the other team directors said the same thing and that’s why no one tried to join the break.”