Benhamouda Earns Best Young Rider Jersey at Tour d’Azerbaijan
03 May 2017
Race: Tour d’Azerbaijan, stage 1
Start/Finish: Baku/Sumgayit, Azerbaijan
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN — 22-year old Mehdi Benhamouda leads the Best Young Rider Classification after stage one at the Tour d’Azerbaijan on Wednesday, finishing 14th in a mass sprint on the crowded streets of Sumgayit.
Benhamouda and his five teammates all finished in the same time as stage winner Mikhel Raim of Estonia, who also leads the General Classification with four tough stages to go.
132 riders started on the Caspian seacoast in Baku in front of a giant flag of Azerbaijan for the mostly flat stage. With a strong tailwind the group rode a very fast first 70km before a breakaway could establish any advantage on the group. After the feedzone five riders escaped to a maximum gap of three minutes before their capture on the final lap of the finishing circuits.
Team Novo Nordisk Sport Director Pavel Cherkasov
“The goal at the beginning of the day was to get into the breakaway, and then do everything we can for Mehdi and Quentin in the sprint. But with the high speed and the tailwind on the first day it took an hour and a half of the guys trying every time before the escape succeeded. After that we put Brian Kamstra and Stephen Clancy on the front with some other teams to control the break and then bring it back. In the finish we did good, but there is still work to do to put power and experience together at the end.”
“The pace was really high, and it took a long time for the breakaway to get going. Once it did we got together with Team Cycling Academy to bring it back. On the finishing circuits it was really hectic and there were a lot of crashes. Hopefully the peloton will calm down tomorrow and be less nervous.”
- 1st: Mikhel Raim (Israel Cycling Academy): 3:04:11
- 2nd: Emils Liepens (Rietume Banka – Riga): st
- 3rd: Pier Paolo De Negri (Nippo – Vini Fantini): st
Team Novo Nordisk Results:
- Mehdi Benhamouda: 14th: st
- Romain Gioux: 17th: st
- Brian Kamstra: 31st: st
- Quentin Valognes: 38th: st
- Umberto Poli: 59th: st
- Stephen Clancy: 120th: st
(Photos: ©Oran Kelly)