Tour of Croatia, 2nd stage: Durasek won over Nibali!

Published: 19.04.2017.

MAKARSKA, April 19th 2017 – Host rider Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates) celebrated the finish of the 2nd stage of Tour of Croatia Wednesday victoriously, passing through the finishing point three seconds faster than the greatest cyclist present, Vicenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida.

Durasek took the benefits out of powerful attack which took place some 300 metres before end of the finishing climb 13 kilometres long. Neither Nibali nor rest of the closest competition did find the strength to answer it. Jaime Roson of Caja Rural-Seguros ended as 2nd achieving the time of the winner, while Nibali and Jan Hirt of CCC Sprandi Polkowice trailed for three seconds. Hirt's teammate Felix Grossschartner followed up.

- The end was quite difficult, but the team worked well and we took 3rd place. I'm the one who needs to improve – said Italian cycling great just after the race.

The stage from Trogir to Biokovo, quite demanding in the authentic blueprint, has been shortened in its most prestigious part, final 15 kilometres of continuous ascent on Sveti Juraj, the highest peak of Biokovo Mountin, due to a stormy and snowy weather (mis)conditions. Instead of 1760 metres of altitude difference, riders were cleared to overcome only 820. Instead of racing for 123 kilometres, they pedalled for not more than 107.

All through the race cyclists were opposed to strong headwind, which reduced the possibilities of too many breakaways, particularly individual ones. The group of four riders decided to take their chances nevertheless quite early on. Anton Vorobyev (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Marco Coledan (Trek-Segafredo) Pirmin Lang (Roth-Akros) and Jonathan Millan (Bicicletas Strongman) formed the leading group separating themselves as much as for minutes from peloton. The effort proved to be useless as expected with bunch connection right prior to the start of the ascent, about 13 kilometres before end.

There were no crucial moves until some five kilometres to go, when Nibali and his domestiques raised the pace to select final leading group. The race started to unfold from that moment on. Organized attack of four men from CCC Sprandi Polkowice has followed as a surprising element. However, Durasek answered all the challenges (one of Nibali included) with ease, engaging himself in well-timed and equally well performed attack couple of hundred metres to go, that proved to be decisive.

Croat, who also took the lead in points classification just as in King of the Mountin competition, is six seconds in front of his 1st follower Roson now in general classification. Nibali is three more seconds behind.

Best young rider currently is Michal Schlegel from CCC Sprandi Polkowice. Polish team overtook, and quite rightly so, the leading position in team classification.

Next stage is taking place on Thursday, starting in Imotski and ending in Zadar. Likely sprinting finish is awaited after 237 kilometres of racing, which makes 3rd stage the longest one in this year's event.