Italian fast man Matteo Moschetti took a solid second place on stage two of Tour of Hungary, notching the first podium after his terrible crash in March that resulted in a broken femur and an extensive rehabilitation period.
The flat 160km stage from Debrecen to Hajdúszoboszló had all the makings of a bunch sprint finale, but that didn’t dissuade a handful of riders from forging ahead and animating the stage in the breakaway.
Arturo Grávalos (Kometa Xstra), Diether Sweeck (Alpecin-Fenix), Gilles De Wilde (Vlaanderen-Baloise), Simone Sano (Team Novák), Ziga Horvat (Adria Mobil) and András Szatmáry (Hungary National Team) opened a maximum gap of just over five minutes before the marquee teams initiated the chase at the head of the peloton.
The escapees, minus Grávalos, were eventually reeled in with 20km to go, but the young Spaniard from Kometa Xstra wasn’t quite ready to capitulate. He put his head down and persevered at the front of the race for 10km before his brave solo effort came to an end.
Trek-Segafredo rode conservatively all day, keeping Moschetti safe and the powder dry for the predicted bunch sprint. As the peloton entered the last six kilometers, the team, lead by Junior World Champion Quinn Simmons, took the reins at the front of the pack.
Ryan Mullen exited the right-hand corner just after the flamme rouge in the first position and kept the pace high with Alex Kirsch on his wheel. The strong Luxembourg native kept control of the race with an impressive turn of speed, until Latvian Emils Liepins, as Moschetti’s last leadout man, launched the Italian to second place behind Jakub Mareczko (Team CCC).
The conditions were a bit windy, but we rode in the bunch quite easily all day, and in the finale my teammates did a really great job and followed the plan we had outlined in the morning perfectly. Emils was my last man, and I started my sprint 200m to the finish line, and in the end, we took a second place.
On the one hand, I'm happy because the team did an excellent job, but on the other hand, I'm a bit disappointed personally because I wanted to end this stage with a victory. For sure, we have two other chances in the next two days, so we will try again to get that victory.
After a series of DNF’s and minor placings in his first races back, Matteo Moschetti, who amassed two wins at the start of the season, achieved his first tangible result since his lengthy rehab and will have more opportunities this week at five-stage Tour of Hungary.
My sensations are not super good yet. I struggled a lot coming back after my injuries, but I think it's a good sign to be there today in the final. Even if this is not one of the biggest races, it's good to be up there fighting for the win and taking a podium.
Liepins came across the line in eighth, making two top-10 places for Trek-Segafredo in the stage.