Litoměřice – The Italian Gianmarco Begnoni won the first stage if the Junior Peace Race. The best among the Czech riders on the Mírové square in Litomerice was Adam Ťoupalík on the 19th place. The peloton arrived in one piece and the final sprint decided about the winner.
„I'm very happy because winning a stage on the Junior Peace Race was always a big dream for me, which came true already in the first stage,“ said just after the podium ceremony the stage winner Begnoni from Italy.
There were 140 racers from 24 countries signed for the first, almost hundred kilometers long, stage of the 43rd edition of the race, this being the biggest peloton since 2002. The fact that the absolute top of the word in this category arrived to northern Bohemia for this race is confirmed by how closely any attempt for escape was watched. The Dutch Bax with the Ukrainian Morozov managed to get ahead of the bunch for a while, they gained half a minute on the peloton, but it lasted only few kilometers. Except for this attempt the peloton staid rater compact. „All the riders are just testing each other, trying to guess in what form the others are. No one tried any strong push for an escape because there are difficult stages ahead of us. For us the main goal was to find out who will be the team leader, but that will be clarified only after the time trial on Friday“ commented on the stage the Czech Marek Šípoš.
Among the Czech racers towards the end the most visible was the experienced Adam Ťoupalík, who was guarding his position around the front for a safe finish. There were two climbs where points for the mountain classification were awarded, in Lovečkovice and in Mukařov. As the peloton was approaching the finish it was not clear who will be the winner until the actual finish line. On the cobble-stone pavement of the main square in Litomerice the Italian Begnoni proved to be the fastest, leaving behind the Norwegian Blikra and at third place Klaris from Denmark.
Begnoni will be in yellow for the next stage, the time trial on Friday before noon in Třebenice. „I'm not a climber so keeping the yellow for the whole race would be a miracle. I rather hope for winning another stage in a mass sprint, this suits me better,“ concluded the GC leader Gianmarco Begnoni.
On Friday the cyclists have to manage first the twelve kilometer long time trial in Třebenice and in the afternoon 63 kilometers of road race with start and finish in Roudnice nad Labem.
Results – 1st stage: 1. Gianmarco Begnoni (Italy) 2:32:29, 2. Erledn Blikra (Norway), 3. Magnus Klaris (Denmark), 4. Christian Koch (Germany), 5. Mitchell Conelisse (Netherlands), 19. Adam Ťoupalík (CZ) – all in the same time.