Andersen rides way to win solo!
After tasting sweet success on stage 12 of the Tour de France after some great riding set up Marc Hirschi to take the Team Sunweb’s first win of the race; the team hatched another plan to replicate that success yesterday. Søren Kragh Andersen went solo in the finale, but with the team behind him to halt any chase – taking another fantastic win for Team Sunweb.
With the previous day’s stage one for the climbers and GC contenders, yesterday appeared to be a much more open affair, with several possible outcomes for the day. Many thought that it could be a day for the early breakaway and a big fight ensued at the start of the stage, with Cees Bol infiltrating a group of three that almost drifted off the front of the peloton.
The pace stalled and Casper Pedersen attacked, hoping to get others to join him and make a race winning breakaway but when no one followed his move, him and Bol sat up and returned to the peloton.
The battle for the Green Jersey saw an intense pace set on the day’s longest climb and that infernal pace remained for the majority of the stage – only calming for a brief period with around 60 kilometres to go. Heading into the finale the team had hatched a plan to be as aggressive as possible over the last two climbs in an attempt to split the race up.
After Nicholas Roche had brought everyone forward, Tiesj Benoot launched a stinging attack on the penultimate climb, getting a small advantage over the bunch. However, he was slowly reeled back in and a stale mate ensued for a few kilometres before the blue touch paper was lit on the crest of the last climb. Stage 12 winner Marc Hirschi attacked, dragging a group clear but they were soon brought to heel and the pace lulled. It was at this moment that Søren Kragh Andersen launched a perfectly timed attack, with a devastating turn of speed to pull away from the peloton.
With the rest of the team doing a great job at disrupting and halting any chase behind, Kragh Andersen could utilise his great descending and time trial skills to build on his advantage. Coming into the finish straight, he had plenty of time to sit up and salute the applauding crowd – sealing a sublime second Tour de France stage win for Team Sunweb.
“It’s incredible, I didn’t really believe this morning when I woke up that this would happen,” smiled a jubilant Kragh Andersen at the finish.
“I’m really happy with the team effort from the guys today, they made it hard enough that I could find the perfect moment to attack. I saw when I went that everybody was tired and they started to look at each other; I knew then that it was the right moment. I had good legs and could go full gas all the way to the line. We’re taking the race in our hands, maybe we don’t realise it’s the Tour de France – but we’re just racing and it happens to be on the biggest stage in the world.”
Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston continued: “Our plan was to try and be in the breakaway if we thought it was big enough to go to the finish. We realised pretty quickly that the break was too small and wasn’t going to go all the way. We had Cees and Casper up the road who we brought back to the peloton and focused on racing an aggressive final.
"The guys really bounce off each other, they’ve got a really good team spirit; they’re just all in for a Team Sunweb win. We used that to our advantage with Tiesj’s attack first then Marc marking some of the key guys on the climb, and then Søren saw a good opportunity to launch his attack. I think across the board the whole team really worked well, brought the guys into position and Casper was also there and waiting for the sprint. We tried to cover all the bases as we knew this was a stage that suited our team and we hoped to get a good result from it, which we did. Everyone is really happy now and we move on towards the final week.”