Despite the presence of boss Patrick Lefevere in the team car, today was the second consecutive unsuccessful day for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team in Valenciana. This time in a sprint stage the team’s lead-out failed to deliver Fabio Jakobsen in a good position, whilst inconsistent Trek-Segafredo sprinter Matteo Moschetti seized the opportunity to sprint early whilst Jakobsen was boxed in, landing his first win at .Pro level or above since Burgos in 2018.
After the tough gravel climb yesterday, stage 4 was made for the sprinters. There were a few rises before the finish, but nothing too big to seriously influence the race.
Before the stage started Jumbo-Visma and DSM announced that they had pulled out of the race due to multiple positive Covid-19 test results in their teamsteams. Mikkel Honoré (Quick-Step), an important part of Jakobsen’s sprint train, and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel – Premier Tech), who would have been one of the favourites, also did not start for various reasons.
The five man TV exposure breakaway was caught by the peloton with 20 kilometres to go, with little wind of any description despite being near the coast line. The sprint trains of Quickstep, Intermarché and UAE asembled and with 2,2 kilometers to go, Remco Evenepoel moved up and started to pace at the front. It was easy to see that Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux rider behind the aero Belgian was struggling. Evenepoel multiple times looked back because his team riders were not behind him. Matteo Trentin of UAE sat amongst the Quick-Step train, disrupting it and stopping Lampaert from moving up. clashed.
Evenepoel proved again that he is strong on the flat, but his work at the front did not help Quick-Step that much. When the Belgian took a right hand turn with under 1500 metres to go it opened a little gap between him and the Intermarché riders but instead of attacking he waited for them to catch back up and continued pacing.
With 1 kilometer to go Jakobsen was 7-8 riders deep and at this moment it was almost impossible to change the situation. His position was horrible considering the left hand turn coming up with only 200 metres remaining. Evenepoel did not make this easier by continuing to pace hard despite the rest of the Quick-Step train needing to move up.
Andrea Pasqualon was the first one who took over after Evenepoel finished his job. Pasqualon lead-out Intermarché leader Alexander Kristoff. At the same time, Michael Mørkøv had tried to move Jakobsen up the long way around the left hand bend, but could not bring Jakobsen into clear air.
The first leader to launch their sprint was Matteo Moschetti. His position was not perfect either, having to jump early, but this ensured he had clear air on the left hand side whilst Jakobsen, who had chosen to move to the left, was boxed in behind him.
Jakobsen seemed disinclined to take too many risks for the minor placings, with Burgos-BH rider Manuel Penalver finishing second, and Kristoff finishing third despite a solid leadout. Another unsuccessful day for Quick-Step, but it is impossible to win everything. Better to make mistakes in early season races than in important ones whilst they are ironing out who will be in their sprint train in the Tour de France.
Tomorrow the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana five day stage race will end with another flat sprint stage. At this moment, only bad luck or crosswinds might influence the GC standings, but given this stage is held mostly inland of Valencia, it should be a regulation sprint.
As always, make sure to check out LR’s recap of all the races on this Saturday triple header down below.