After a hard 8 days at the Giro d’Italia U23, the Academy squad was back to full swing with an action-packed weekend that started with Heistse Pijl and will follow with tomorrow’s 1.1 Antwerp Port Epic. Today’s Kermesse presented a flat parcour but technical at the same time, which allow multiple moves among the bunch. The race was off to a fast start, but the peloton did not allow big groups to go away at the beginning, while our riders were sitting nice on the wheels. 

Several groups tried their luck up the road, but sooner or later the peloton reacted to bring them back. Wessel Krul and Milan Paulus represented the Academy flag in a long-range attack that featured up to 23 riders, but despite having a maximum gap of 40″ the main group eventually brought them back. The always-attacking attitude from our talents lacked in the last two laps when a break of 16 riders went away, but quickly we could see the Academy jerseys moving up and assisting in the chase. Coming into the closing kilometers, the breakaway was brought back and the normal bunch sprint scenario kicked-off with Wessel Krul and Sven Burger moving Jesper Rash to the head of the bunch for the final sprint. Our fast Dutch talent could not have the best line for the final rush to the line, but despite being boxed in he could seize a Top 10 finish on the day. Now it’s time to recover and go back at it again at Antwerp Port Epic. 

Meanwhile in Poland, the Nations Cup’s Orlen Nations Grand Prix kicked off with a 27 km long TTT. Daan Hoole was selected by the KNWU to participate in the event and after a solid team performance that brought the orange squad to the win, the 21-year old became the first leader of the race after crossing the line first. Tomorrow they will tackle the second and last stage that will see the bunch racing around a local circuit for five times, with a 2 km long climb at 5% being the main highlight of the lap. 

Dries Hollanders, Academy DS for the race, looks back to the team performance: 
“We were pretty active all day long, and in the last 60km a big break was riding away, 23 riders with Wessel and Milan. They had a max advantage of 40″ but the bunch reacted and with 40 km to go everything came back. In the last 2 laps, we missed the break of 15 riders… But we assisted in organizing the chase. In the last km, the bunch was complete and teammates (Wessel and Sven) brought Jesper in a top 10 position for the sprint. Jesper was a bit closed in and finished around 10th, disappointed not the reward his teammates after the hard work. Now time to recover and focus on tomorrow”