Race: Tour of Estonia, Stage 2
Start/Finish: Tartu/Tartu, Estonia
Distance: 173 kilometers
Tartu, Estonia — Team Novo Nordisk fought fearlessly and concluded the 2019 Tour of Estonia with a fourth place from Andrea Peron on the second and final stage that took place in Tartu. The world’s first all-diabetes team placed two riders in the Top-10 in General Classification with Charles Planet and Andrea Peron finishing in 7th and 8th, respectively.
Stage 2 in Tartu consisted of a 9.7km lap that had to be taken a total of 18 times. The urban circuit setting favored an aggressive style of racing and it was no surprise that several attacks went from the gun. Team Novo Nordisk set out with high goals, the first of which was to defend Sam Brand’s King of the Mountain Jersey. The 28-year-old Isle of Man rider started the day in red and with two KOM’s up for grabs during the stage it was critical to keep the opposition in check and cover any significant moves.
Charles Planet did very well to take maximum points in the first KOM but Isac Lundgren managed to take second on the categorized climb scoring two points, enough to level his tally to five, the same as Brand. In the end, his higher position on the General Classification was decisive and Brand had to settle for the second position in the Mountains Classification.
Five riders went on a breakaway and animated the stage up until the last four laps when they were eventually reeled in by the Israel Cycling Academy led peloton. Soon after the upping of the pace led to splits in the bunch. Team Novo Nordisk rode strongly at the front and had the numbers with no less than four riders in the lead group with three laps to go.
In the final two laps, the Estonian National Champion Mihkel Räim seized his opportunity and broke clear with four other riders, amongst them our Finn Joonas Henttala. As the quintet crossed the finishing line, taking on the final 19km, they had opened a gap of half a minute to the chasing group with Planet, Andrea Peron and Peter Kusztor in its flanks.
Having spent much of the day working in the peloton Henttala didn’t have enough in the tank to follow the wheel of his breakaway companions and fell back to the peloton focusing what energy he had left to help his teammates.
Ultimately, it was Räim who held off the pursuers and took a comfortable win, securing not only the stage victory but the overall classification. Andrea Peron sprinted to second place in the bunch which gave him a fourth position in the stage.
With two final Top10 placings, one podium result on Stage 1, two fourth places on the Prologue and final stage and a day in the King of the Mountains jersey, Team Novo Nordisk showed their character and strength in depth in a very attritional Tour of Estonia, racing competitively and showing the #ChangingDiabetes jersey at the forefront of all the stages.
“We had the King of the Mountains jersey and two riders on the Top 10 of the GC. The plan was to to defend the jersey, climb a few spots on the GC and fight for the stage win. In the end two guys managed to stay away and I took second on the bunch sprint. It was a Top5 on the stage and it was a good day but not perfect. We raced well, we raced aggressively and were always with a lot of guys in the front but we wanted more from this race.”
1st: Mihkel Räim (Israel Cycling Academy): 4:01:53
2nd: Michal Podlaski (Poland, Wibatech Merx 7R): “
3rd: Roman Maikin (Minsk Cycling Club): 10
4th: Andrea Peron (Team Novo Nordisk): “