Matteo Moschetti sprints to second place in Sicily while Mads Pedersen ends a thrilling Eurométropole Tour with a third-place podium
Giro di Sicilia
After bitter disappointment in the Stage 1 sprint finish, Matteo Moschetti rebounded in Stage 2 with a second-place finish but admitted he still had a less than ideal sprint.
After a crash-riddled 2019 followed by a 2020 season cut short to a severe injury, Moschetti is finally putting his misfortunes behind him in 2021, but it has still been a bumpy road this year to find back his top speed.
Moschetti has been chasing glory since claiming two quick wins at the start of 2020, and the four-day Giro di Sicilia looked to be a perfect opportunity to get back on track.
Moschetti admitted he muddled his chance in Stage 1 with an error in the final corner that left him sprinting for fourth.
In the Stage 2 finale, Vincenzo Nibali and Mattias Skjelmose helped place the Italian fastman in fourth wheel in the final 500 meters.
All was looking good, but in the sprint Juan Sebastián Molano got the early jump to claim his second straight victory. Matteo tried to come around on the left but was impeded by Filippo Fiorelli who was quickly relegated for deviating from his line, giving the Trek-Segafredo sprinter second place.
“Although Fiorelli’s deviation complicated my sprint, honestly 2nd or 3rd changes little, I wouldn’t have been able to beat Molano anyway,” said Matteo. “I was in a good position, thanks to the work of my teammates, but in hindsight I hesitated a little too much to launch the sprint. The speed in the finale was very high, the only card I could play was to anticipate the sprint before Molano did. If I had, the result could have been different.”
Mads Pedersen sprinted to third place in a highly active Eurométropole Tour, a race he won in 2018 and Jasper Stuyven finished 3rd in 2019 (there was no race last year).
The final laps in the Belgian one-day race were played perfectly by Trek-Segafredo, who never missed a move all day, a good sign ahead of the upcoming Paris-Roubaix Sunday.
Kiel Reijnen joined the day’s breakaway, which was caught on the finishing laps with just under 50kms to go. Soon after the bunch split in a crosswind section and Alex Kirsch and Mads Pedersen were attentively upfront.
Still 45 kilometers remained, but Alex Kirsch put in a massive amount of work to help the group stay clear of a chasing bunch that included sprint favorite Fabio Jakobsen.
In the 15-kilometer circuits, the peloton would pull closer on the climb and ensuing crosswind section, but the 21 riders out front would grow their lead again.
In the final lap a group split away after the climb and finally connected with just under 5 kilometers remaining, bringing Jakobsen, but also an extra helper for Mads in Edward Theuns, into the mix.
Theuns provided a perfect lead-out, but Pedersen could not hold off the faster legs of Jakobsen, who took the win. It was a close finish behind, but Pedersen held on for a well-deserved podium after Trek-Segafredo played a perfect race.
“Another good day on the bike, another good teamwork. I am proud of the boys and how we all worked together. Alex (Kirsch) did a super job to keep the gap between the two pelotons, but yeah, him against the others pulling behind wasn’t ideal. Sometimes it pays off to be aggressive, sometimes it doesn’t and today we have to be happy with the third place.
“Eddie (Theuns) did a really good job. We ended up a little bit short – Eddie had to open his sprint a little bit early and then I had to open mine early. It would have worked out with a tailwind but today we had a good headwind, so it wasn’t ideal. But I think we can be happy with the 3rd place and the way the shape is forming.
“I wanted to do a hard race, we could have just waited and done a hard sprint, but the main goal of today was to make it hard and try to win the race in another way, in a smaller group, or at least, have a tough race in the last 60-70kms and see what we can do.
“I thought today could be the best preparation for Sunday, especially after Worlds where I didn’t do the full distance, then it would be nice to do 200kms today. Physically I am feeling quite okay, of course, I feel the body a bit after my two crashes in Worlds; it’s never nice to hit the floor like that. It was okay today and hopefully, it’s getting better and better for Roubaix on Sunday.