Romain Seigle has apparently developed a taste for massive sprints. After taking part in the one at the Brussels Cycling Classic in late August, the young rider of the Groupama-FDJ did it again on Monday in the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The outcome proved to be similar: an eighth position. Thanks to this solid result, the team starts the Italian race in a good way.
“The riders could get the engine going again”, Sébastien Joly
While the Tour de France’s riders were enjoying their first rest day by the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, another part of the international peloton was set to start the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico by the Tyrrhenian Sea. In Tuscan territory, a massive sprint was the anticipated outcome of the 133-kilometer first stage. “There will be things to do almost every day this week, but this first stage was indeed the one that suited us the least on paper, because of this very flat sprint by the sea, explained Sébastien Joly, a sports director together with Jussi Veikkanen on the race. So, the day’s purpose was above all that everyone could get back to it properly, especially since most of our seven riders took a break lately. It was therefore important to have a day to get going again”.
Seven riders went ahead of the bunch in the slightly hilly start of the stage. Among the day’s attackers, Simon Pellaud (Androni-Sidermec) and Paul Martens (Jumbo-Visma) proved to be the strongest, but the bunch never got worried and caught them without any trouble when it crossed the line for the first time, with twenty kilometers to go. “It was a calm day, but still energetic since the stage was short and the breakaway was large, Sébastien recalled. “So those who were aiming for the stage victory today could not afford to give a too large advantage. They rode quite fast and the riders could therefore get the engine going again”. As expected, the sprinters’ teams took things under control in the final kilometers and the fight for positions turned out to be quite hectic. A collision in the middle of the peloton actually caused some crashes with 1500 meters to go. The Groupama-FDJ team was spared and Romain Seigle even managed to enter the right move.
“I had the good feeling”, Romain Seigle
“In the final, we were happily surprised to see Romain, coming from his top 10 in Brussels, mingle a bit in the sprint, added Sébastien. Maybe we would have imagined it more in a slight uphill finish, but it really came down to instinct today. From this point of view, he told us that having positioned Marc Sarreau on several occasions last year had probably served him”. “It all happened very, very quickly,” explained Romain. “I was still a bit far with 2-3 kilometers to go, but I didn’t feel too bad and saw a door opening on the left. The door remained open and I moved up without panicking and without pushing too hard. I found myself well positioned in the sprinters’ lead-out trains and managed to get behind Gaviria. It just happened like that. Then I said to myself: “now that you’re here, go ahead, do your sprint”. It wasn’t really planned but I had the good feeling, so I gave it a try.”
While Fernando Gaviria got beaten on the line by Pascal Ackermann, Romain Seigle hung on to net a “nice top 8”, Sébastien Joly said. “In the final sprint, and especially in the last 100 meters, it obviously got more difficult,” added the 25-year-old Frenchman. “I’m not a specialist, but I did well nonetheless. In the end, I’m happy. This is my first top 10 in the WorldTour, which is great. It’s not a bad way to start the race. Now we have to keep the momentum going, me and the team.” On Tuesday, there will be another stage without big obstacles. However, there will be way more kilometers than today (201) and a 1,300-meter hill (at 5%) with ten kilometers to go could spice up the final.