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[CT] Swisslion Cycling Team 2018

Coppa Placci

08.04C2Goals: Top 10; Top 20


One-day race

It was a beautiful day in San Marino for the Coppa Placci classic, the 2nd C2 hilly one-day race. Quite a few breakaways were denied at the start, until eventually one rider was allowed to go on his own. Filippo Rocchetti of team Campari is the rider. He had about a 2'30'' gap to the peloton with 45km to go as riders from Eddie Stobart, ENI-MOL and Delvaux set the pace.


With 10km to go the gap was just over a minute and lots of splits occured before the final climb. Both Seibeb and Othman lost contact with the peloton. Othman was able to recover and rejoin the peloton, while Seibeb seemed to give up. The peloton's pace dropped and Rocchetti's gap rose to 1'47''.


Then it was pre-race favourite Meyer that attacked, Di Maggio followed, but couldn't match Meyer's acceleration. A select group caught up to Di Maggio and Othman was part of that group. Gautier then set a strong pace hoping to catch Meyer and Rocchetti, the latter with a 20s gap over the former.


But all the effort from Meyer and the others was for nought, as Rocchetti held on take the win. Amazing performance from the Campari rider who rode solo in the breakaway all day! Meyer took 2nd and as the fight for the other places commenced Othman due to his previous efforts, lost some ground. In the end he finished 9th, still the best result for Swisslion in a hilly classic. Seibeb and Pibernik though were nowhere to be seen as they finished almost 4 minutes behind the winner.


Hvastija: If I told the boys once, then I told them a 100 times! Stay at the front of the peloton! All credit to Othman he was clearly feeling well and put in a great ride, but the team performance was very dissapointing.

Othman: I was looking after Costa along with my other teammates, but he didn't have the legs to day. He told me I can go on my own so I gave it my all. Luckily I was able to finish 9th.

Pibernik: I just didn't have anything left for the final climb. My season is not going as I want it right now.

Seibeb: I don't know. I'm sorry for my teammates that worked for me for nothing. I'm just gonna dust myself down and move forward. It's all I can do right now.

A bitter-sweet race for us here in San Marino. Othman's great ride was a joy to watch while on the other hand our two "main men" were missing in action. From a points perspective it's a decent result and another hilly classic ticked off the calendar. Unfortunately for us there are quite a few more to come until the end of the season.

Race goals:
Top 10SuccessOthman 9th
Top 20FailureSeibeb 68th

Race score: 6/10

Bostjan Mervar,
team representative and general manager of Swisslion Cycling Team

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Tour of Ukraine

13.04 - 15.04HCGoals: GC Top 15; GC Top 25


Stage 1

A 7.2km prologue that ended with the last km going uphill. Viennet from cycleYorkshire put in a strong time, that was eventually broken by Nepomnyachsniy of team Popo4Ever. Tony Martin again wasn't at it, while the main favourite Coppel did what he has be doing all season, setting the benchmark.

Reus put in a respectable time of +13s, enough for 12th on the stage. Coppel won it with the surprise coming from team Popo4Ever. Pluchkin just a second by behind the winner and Nepomnyachsniy making it a double podium. For Swisslion Kovalev finished 21st (+23s) and Martin 23rd (+24s).


Stage 2

Just 140km here, but it's the first of two decisive stages. Some hills on the way, but the serious one at the end, 5.9km at 8.8% gradient. Quite a few riders attempted to get in the morning break. Young Matija Mestric tried as well, but failed in the end as a total of 4 riders got away.

With 9km to go the break was caught and the main puncheurs and GC contenders positioned themselves before the final climb. As soon as the climb started it was Jay McCarthy who attacked and quickly opened a 40s gap. Lutsentko jumped after with Pluchkin and race leader Coppel soon following. Izagirre bridged to Pluchkin and Coppel as the peloton started fragmenting to pieces.


McCarthy was able to hold on to the win with Lutsenko 1'51'' down in 2nd. Behind Pluchkin and Izagirre dropped Coppel, but Izagirre was the strongest finishing 3rd before Pluchkin. Coppel finished 17th 4'57'' down on McCarthy. For Swisslion it was Othman with a decent ride in 15th, but no GC chances here. Reus 6'29 down for 29th in GC, a huge loss. The biggest loss though was Martin, a pathetic 90th place in GC.

Stage 3

Last day here in Ukraine and it was a big one. A 45km TT mostly flat, but with a couple of hills mixed in there. Kovalev with a solid early time, but it was quickly demolished by Schädlich. After that it's the home hope Marlen Zmorka who puts in the next best time.


Keizer is next rider to take the lead, 2s faster than Zmorka. Soon after it's Reus's turn. Not a good result for the Dutchman, 1'05'' behind Kaizer. A lot of puncheurs follow who are clearly struggling in this long solo effort, losing multiple minutes on Kaizer and the others.


It's Coppel's turn then and he showed once again why he's the best in the business, 56s faster than Keizer! It's GC time then. Barbin, Lutsenko and McCarthy struggled while Pluchkin, Ignatiev, Bazhkou and Izagirre gained huge ground. It was the latter who made the numbers work best. Izagirre took the overall victory ahead of Pluchkin and Bazhkou. Stage winner Coppel missed the podium by a second.

For Swisslion it was Kovalev with a solid stage result finishing 14th. Reus slightly dissapointed with 20th, but enough to finish 13th overall. But for Martin it was another day to forget, finishing even behind Othman overall. Has the German lost his engine completely?

Hvastija: We realised stage 2 was going to be difficult and so it proved. We were hoping the tempo would stay lax a while into the climb, but it wasn't to be. The puncheurs blew the race apart. A solid perfomance for Kai, but not much else from us here. Tony is going through a difficult time at the moment.

Reus: I would have liked to have done better in both TT's. The hill stage I did the best I could. I'm not upset, but I know I can still do better.

Martin: Not sure what to say, but I know I'm letting the team down right now. It's tough, but I gotta find a way to get through it.

First taste of HC racing here for Swisslion. Some mixed feelings, with Kai and Tony, but not as bad of a result for the 3 days here. We go to Great Britain next for the Lincoln GP. It's a busy time of the season for Martin Hvastija, but I'm sure he'll have our classics group ready to perform.

Race goals:
Top 15 GCSuccessReus 13th
Top 25 GCFailureMartin 69th

Race score: 6/10

Bostjan Mervar,
team representative and general manager of Swisslion Cycling Team


Lincoln GP

26.04C2HCGoals: Top 5; Top 20


Eugert ZhupaLeaderMiha PoljanecDomestique
Constantinos ThymidesLieutenantJovan ZekavicaDomestique
Mateo FrankovicDomestiqueMatija MestricDomestique
Rui OliveiraDomestiqueIzidor PenkoDomestique

Hvastija: We look to continue our strong start to the cobbled campaign. It's a circuit race with a similar profile than Geraardsbergen-Bosberg. That cobbled hill is probably even tougher, so we hope it's not decisive in a bad way for us. Sending someone in the break is also a good option here.

Zhupa: Fighting for position is going bo critical on every lap. You have to be at the front when the climb starts to stand any chance. After that anything is possible, the race can break at any point.

Thymides: I'm gonna try my best to keep Eugert in a good position. It's a very difficult cobbled climb. Only the riders with strong legs on the day will survive it.

Mestric: This are the races I have been looking forward to riding. I'll try to get in the break, if not I'll help Eugert in any way I can.

Bostjan Mervar,
team representative and general manager of Swisslion Cycling Team


Lincoln GP

08.04C2Goals: Top 5; Top 20


One-day race

Just shy of 160km today for the riders, so it's not as much about endurance as it is explosiveness on the cobbled climb of this circuit course. Nice weather greeted the riders in the UK. A breakaway of 6 riders formed early on, including young Matija Mestric from Swisslion. Their gap would go as high as 6 minutes as teams Cerveceria, Delvaux and Rothaus control the race.


With the 31km to go the break's gap was only at a minute and there were only 31 riders left in the peloton. The group broke further but eventually came back together soon after the break was caught. Right after that Kluge launched an attack and quickly opened a 59'' gap, can he win yet again?

The chase was on, but the gap was not dropping. Before entering the last lap Zhupa, Kulppi and Drucker pulled away trying to catch the German.


The race would come back together with 2.4km to the finish, only Kluge remaining in front with a 22'' advantage ahead of the final climb. Drucker got the jump on everyone as he came into the cobbles first and launched his sprint. He would quickly move past Kluge, no one could follow and he did it. Drucker won! Kluge recovered enough to hold of Breen for 2nd place. It was Zhupa then just behind narrowly missing the podium in 4th place. A very solid result. The teams success was doubled as Mestric who spent the day in the breakaway finished in 16th.


Hvastija: I think we executed our strategy quite well. Matija was excellent today, provided the foil for Eugert and finished top 20 as well. In the end it was all about who was strongest in the finish. Eugert did what he could, a good result for him.

Zhupa: Maybe I wasted some energy with that earlier attack, but I knew I wasn't as fast a finisher uphill as some others. In these races you never know if you don't try. I'm happy with the result.

Mestic: Great race for me, I love riding these cobbled hills! We had good cooperation in the break so I was able to do a job for the team. It feels great to also score some points!

It's a bit weird to say this is actually our worst performance on the cobbles thus far. But it's true after a 2nd and 3rd we finish 4th. Nonetheless it's another good result, the cobbled classics are a real revelation for us. It's also a nice way to finish off a very successful month of April.

Race goals:
Top 5SuccessZhupa 4th
Top 20SuccessMestric 16th

Race score: 8/10

Bostjan Mervar,
team representative and general manager of Swisslion Cycling Team

Good going. Mostly your succes criterias (for the important riders) are achieved. Well done Smile

SotD wrote:
Good going. Mostly your succes criterias (for the important riders) are achieved. Well done Smile

Maybe my criteria is too lenient, but it feels good to achieve your goals more often Pfft
Edited by redordead on 22-11-2018 09:35

Windhoek ITT

04.05 - 05.05C2HCGoals: GC Win; GC Top 10 2x


Stage 1

A race with big expectations for Swisslion as they brought three very experienced and accomplished time-trialers to Namibia. Kai Reus, Tony Martin and Ivan Kovalev all expected to fight for the win.


40.3km on the 1st stage, it starts with a light descent then mostly flat and finishes slightly uphill towards the finish. It turned out to be underwhelming day as none of the trio could even crack the top 5. Kovalev 6th (+26s), Martin 9th (+42s) and Reus providing the most dissapointing result at 11th (+43s).

Stage 2

Day 2 and another 40km this almost pan flat, so the rider with the biggest engine on the day should win. Hopes of final victory has already been lost for Swisslion on day 1, can they at least salvage a top 5 placing? It appears not, Reus finishes only 8th at the time which should see him tumble down the order.


Martin does slightly better to finish 3rd GC at the time as Kovalev also loses a lot of time. The top 5 from day 1 are were still on the road and while Martin's time was good enough to finish 5th overall, both Kovalev and Reus continued to slide down the table finishing outside the top 10.


Hugues Mottin combined the best times to take 1st with Riccardo Zoidl and Vojtech Haceck√Ĺ rounding out the podium.

Hvastija: What can I say... we chocked quite simply. Biggest race of the season till date and we did not perform at all. Myself and the coach need to have a good look at where we'd gone wrong as our time-trial result have been below par for a while now.

Reus: I feel like I let the team down here. We came here with the biggest goal, but we didn't get close. We have to take the responsibility.

Martin: I guess in another context 5th place wouldn't be as bad, but we wanted to finish higher and we wanted to do better as a team.

Kovalev: I was hoping the 2nd flatter day would suit me better than the 1st, but I just didn't have it in my legs.

Well, this result is a bit of a kick in the teeth. We invested a lot and expected to perform a lot better here in Namibia. We just can't let this result affect our season going forward. We've been very good up until now, we just have to keep grinding.

Race goals:
GC WinFailureMartin 5th
GC Top 10 2xFailureKovalev 14th, Reus 18th

Race score: 1/10

Bostjan Mervar,
team representative and general manager of Swisslion Cycling Team

Edited by redordead on 15-02-2019 06:21
this has been absolutely horrific...nevertheless a nice little review Smile

Tour du Faso

12.05 - 14.05C2HCGoals: GC Top 5; Stage Top 3


Stage 1

The premium stage race for riders who specialise riding over the cobbles in the CT division. The 1st stage features just one cobbled section, but it's 17km long in the last 20km of the stage. A quite large group of 7 riders were allowed in the breakaway.


Conditions were treacherous with strong winds on the course as splits began to occur even 50km from the finish. Luckily for those the breakaway was caught soon after, so the pace slowed, allowing them to return to the peloton. But as the riders were approaching the cobbled sector the pace picked up and as many as 50 odd riders lost contact with the bunch.


And as the cobbles started it was Zhupa himself on the front, putting down a steady pace that would further reduce the peloton. With 10km to go there was 32 left so the tempo eased slightly as Zhupa also rode away from all his teammates except Tyhmides. But the latter also lost contact with 5km to go. Shortly after Zhupa launched his bigger attack!


He was able to open up a gap as he left the cobbles, with a group of Breen, Kluge McLay and Ferreira chasing, Breen doing most of the work. The group had been split to pieces and it seemed like those riders would contest the win.


Under the flamme rouge and Breen attacked distancing the others as he looked to overtake Zhupa. The others kept looking at each other and started sprinting too late. In the end Breen was too strong as he stormed by Zhupa before the line, taking the victory. An impressive performance by both, but Breen timing his effort to perfection.


Stage 2

A flat stage with no cobbles so a chance for the sprinters to get a stage win and chance for some fast finishing cobblers to snatch some bonus seconds for GC. It was a very windy again, with 4 riders (Reijnen, Tybor, Beyer, Halvorsen) willing to go up the road to brave the elements.

The escapees worked well together to have a 5 min gap at the halfway point. The peloton tried accelerating, but with 10km to go the gap was still 1'20. 6km to go and Tybor attacked the breakaway, Reijnen slowly followed and caught up. The other 2 were running on empty and the peloton was nowhere to be seen, it was going to come down to Tybor and Reijnen.

Tybor launched an early sprint, but Reijnen was able to hold his wheel and pip him at the line. Great win for Telia, but poor tactics by Tybor. Colbrelli won the bunch sprint for 5th, while McLay, Kluge and Breen were able to get some bonus seconds.


Stage 3

The last and most pivotal stage of the race. Only 125km in length, but 80% of that are cobblestones, that comes to 101km of cobbles. No wind on the day as 6 riders made their way up the road, but as they hit the cobbles the 6 quickly split. Laizer and Kokorevas forming the front two.


Similar things happened in the peloton as the cobbles reduced to peloton to 50 riders. Every escapee except Laizer was already caught before the first intermediate sprint. Weirdly there was no fight for the 2 and 1 bonus seconds on hand as Breen and Kluge take all they can. Same thing on the 2nd sprint this time the Swisslion helpers took the bonus as they looked to control the race.


Then a puncture for race leader Breen as they left the cobble section. Swisslion took the opportunity to up the pace. Breen though was able to recover fairly quickly and with that the tempo slowed. 24km to go the peloton entered the final cobbled section which lasts till the finish. Swisslion were doing work all day, but as they hit the cobbles Zhupa took the front to set a stronger tempo.


Zhupa's tempo setting broke up the peloton further and with 17km to go he accelerated even more to a proper attack. He quickly distanced the race leader with only Ferreira able to catch up. Behind formed a group of Drucker, Kluge, Breen, Van der Haar and Van Wyk.


Zhupa and Ferreira worked well together as 5km to go, they held a gap of 35s to the next group. There Van Wyk was dropped, but Jacobs and Kulppi joined. Though soon after that Kluge attacked.


The German put a huge effort in, as he quickly joined Zhupa and Ferreira. He started setting a high pace as Ferreira began to suffer. 2 km to the finish, Ferreira was barely hanging on, but by that time Kluge was also starting to empty his tank. Zhupa on the other hand looked reasonably fresh.


So he attacked for the last time. No one could follow this time. Final kilometer for the Albanian, but there would be no doubt. It's a stage win for Swisslion after the dissapointment of finishing 2nd on day 1. Kluge, Breen and Ferreira came to the finish next and with a gap of 32s, which meant Zhupa also took overall victory ahead of Breen and Kluge!


Hvastija: We knew Eugert had this performance in him. He has been consistently among the best all season. Always riding aggressive and taking chances, it's a very well deserved win. Also a fantastic performance by the entire team as they controlled the race in all the crucial moments.

Zhupa: I've felt great since day one,. I knew it would be difficult to win if it came down to a sprint finish. It was always the plan to make the race tough, but you need good legs and a team to do it. I had both! Hopefully there is more to come from us this season.

Thymides: I'm very happy for Eugert, he was so strong it was unbelievable. Also great racing from all the young guys here. They're learning real quick. The future looks bright.

From down in the dumps to top of the world. It's funny how things change in the space of a week. Can't say we saw this coming, but we've been terrific in the classics and we've topped that by winning the toughest cobbled race there is here.

It's also Swisslion's first ever GC victory! The team is growing race after race. Hope we have more moments like this in the future.

Race goals:
GC Top 5SuccessZhupa 1st
Stage Top 3SuccessStage 3 (Zhupa 1st)

Race score: 10/10

Bostjan Mervar,
team representative and general manager of Swisslion Cycling Team

Edited by redordead on 20-02-2019 20:34
I'm not exactly convinced those race goals in Faso were a failure Wink
sammyt93 wrote:
I'm not exactly convinced those race goals in Faso were a failure Wink

At least the color was right Pfft
oh sweet glorious Tour du Faso Banana
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