Edward Theuns sprints to second place off a strong team effort in France
The last races of a long season can be tough. It’s been almost a year of training and racing and the off-season beckons. The riders need a strong mental approach to push aside thoughts of sandy beaches, time with friends and family, and the extra-curricular pleasures that have been put on hold for months to focus on the bike.
Edward Theuns and Trek-Segafredo came into Paris-Tours with plenty of late-season motivation and a solid plan that paid off with a podium in a fall classic that has opened more opportunities with the addition of gravel sectors.
The action kicked off at the start of the gravel, 60 kilometers from the end, and never relented. The escapees – Alex Kirsch playing a key antagonist in a late move – were finally caught 1500 meters from the line and a reduced bunch sprint unfolded.
It was heartbreak for Kirsch, who had the green light to ride for a result, after helping power a five-man chase group to catch the early breakaway, and then try and hold off the bunch in the final kilometers.
But Edward Theuns, with help from Toms Skujins, mended Kirsch’s disappointment, paying back the Luxembourg cyclist’s hard work with a fantastic sprint.
Eddie almost stole victory from pre-race favorite Arnaud Demare. It was a worthy podium. The fall classics like Paris-Tours are late in the season but are finding their niche in a full calendar with exhilarating action over gravel roads.
“I have had good form in the past weeks, and we have a good team here to follow attacks, so I had to try and save myself for a sprint, and the other guys could try and go in moves. Alex did a great job by going in a good group pretty early when the gravel sectors started. They got a good advantage and we were behind trying to cover all other moves that were going.
I had a mechanical for a couple of sectors and it took me some time to regain contact with the bunch first of all, and then to try and move back up [to the front] of the bunch. It cost me a lot of energy and I was a bit on the limit in last 20-30kms. But I knew the finale was a bit more flat so I could recover a bit. Toms picked me up in the back of the bunch with five kilometers to go and kept me really well in the front to the last corner.
I let Demare pass in the last corner to try and come from his wheel and I didn’t have enough energy to go over him. I am a bit disappointed to not grab the victory but on the other hand I am happy with the second spot here at the end of the season.
I knew the from is good but it’s not easy to beat Demare. He’s one of the best sprinters in the world, I think. I tried, I was in a good position, but in the end I just didn’t have enough power left in the legs.
Japan Cup is next and maybe that’s not the race that suits me the best, but the form is good and the morale is still good, and we have some good climbers there. I will give my best for the team in the last race of the season. Then after I take some time to recover and regain energy to look towards the next season.”
It was not the last race for Trek-Segafredo. Make sure to join us for one more week of races in Italy and Japan before we close the book on a successful season.