Aqua Blue Sport have completed their first season at French one day race Paris-Tour.
The sprinter’s classic was a 234 kilometer flat run from Brou towards Tours. The weather began with mild Autumn conditions but finished with light rain. A break of five riders slipped clear shortly after the flag dropped on the outskirts of the start town.
The five-man group built up an initial slim lead of 1’40”. Once the peloton relaxed the gap expanded out to 4’20” and then increased that to more than 5’20” at its most mature. This was the signal for the peloton to react. That brought the gap back down to 2’40” where it stayed for much of the day – the big sprint teams keeping their advantage to within striking distance.
The race itself was a relatively tame affair with not much happening for much of the day. But as the last 60 kilometers appeared the pace shot up. The peloton knocked one minute off their advantage within 10 kilometers.
It was clear that the intention of all present was for a sprint finish.
The course designers had other ideas as they placed two short but decisive ascents in the final 15 kilometers. As the last two members of the break were taken back Matteo Trentin launched a devastating attack. He was followed by Soren Kragh Andersen and Niki Terpstra. They went over the Cote de Beau Soleil and down the other side. They then put a further rush in over the Cote de L’Epan just kilometers from the finish.
The efforts to bring it back, led chiefly by desperate efforts from the sprinters, proved fruitless. The trio was left to fight it out with a sprint in Tours town center. Trentin’s sprint was too powerful for his companions and he took a comfortable victory.
Lasse Norman Hansen was the first home for Aqua Blue Sport followed closely by Lars Petter Nordhaug.
Hansen said: “It is great to get to the end of the season. It has been an incredible experience with Aqua Blue Sport. We have had a superb season for a new team. The race itself was a typical sprint day. Very little happened for most of it but it all came back together at the end only for Trentin to attack and spoil our plans to put Adam Blythe into a position to sprint. Either way, it was a great day to finish on and we are all looking forward to next year. We all want to thank Rick Delaney for his support and also to our fans across the world. We are all looking forward to a rest now and then onto 2018.”
Stephen Moore hailed the finish of the season as the completion of a dream for Aqua Blue Sport.
He said: “This team was just a dream this time last year. We have closed off the season and what a season it has been. Stage wins at Tour de Suisse and at La Vuelta. Of course, we also had a stunning GC win in Austria, a national champion’s jersey in the US and a number of podium finishes across the last ten months. We would all like to send our gratitude to our fans at home in Ireland and across the globe. Your enthusiasm for this project has been a great inspiration for us. We are now looking forward to 2018 and we hope to better our successes from this year.”