Stay Home Stories: George Bennett
In the column ‘Stay Home Stories’, the cyclists of Team Jumbo-Visma talk about t...
In the tough third stage of the Ruta del Sol, Team Jumbo-Vismal was represented in every breakaway attempt. Eventually, Antwan Tolhoek became the first rider of the team in the result. He finished in ninth place. Chris Harper finished a little further down and retained his seventh place in the overall standings.
In the 177-kilometre long mountain stage to Ubeda, the attacks kept coming from the start. Thirty-one riders immediately attacked, including Team Jumbo-Visma’s Lennard Hofstede. Eventually, forty-four riders rode in the front for a long time after Tolhoek had also joined, along with GC leader Jakob Fuglsang.
Harper initially missed the split, but was able to return halfway through the stage after the various teams closed the gap on the large leading group. After things had settled down in the peloton, a leading group of ten riders broke clear with Hofstede. They were given a maximum lead of two and a half minutes, but were caught in the last ten kilometres of the stage. When the GC riders attacked on the final climb, Tolhoek tried to go along with them but he didn’t succeed.
“It was grande casino from the start”, Tolhoek explained. “I joined the front group with Fuglsang. That wasn’t easy because we were riding very fast. After that, Lennard and I tried to get away in an attempt to win the stage. In the end it was Lennard who managed to pull a gap, which was fine for us. A pity it didn’t work out. On the final climb I tried to position myself and I was able to achieve a nice top ten result. It was a very tough day. Now it’s time to rest and then we will try again tomorrow.”
Sports director Arthur van Dongen had seen a very strong team. “I think we showed ourselves well; we were involved in every breakaway. It’s a bit of a pity that Chris was unable to join that large group in the beginning, but luckily, things worked out well in the end by him being able to retain his position in the GC. Due to the energy he had to put in the chase, he came short in the final. Antwan and Lennard rode a very good stage. We were very active.”