Sacha Modolo took a convincing win on the third stage of Ruta del Sol on Friday, exacting his revenge for a near miss on stage one and earning his first victory in the EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale kit.
The Italian wound up his sprint late and distanced Carlos Barbero (Movistar) and Nelson Andres Soto Martinez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) in order to climb onto the top step of the podium in Herrera. He was full of praise for the team’s newfound sprint train.
“The boys were perfect. At the beginning, there weren’t too many attacks. The breakaway was small with only four riders. Joe Dombrowski kept the escape in check. He did a huge job, like on the first stage, to bring them back,” Modolo said. “We took control in the last kilometer until the last corner at 400 meters. It was downhill, and other teams tried to anticipate that corner by swinging on the right. I managed to get into third wheel, which was perfect. The first day, having lost the race in the way that I did, I did not sleep at all in the night because of the pain I felt for the team. I’m so happy to give them the win today.”
The 165-kilometer day was a straightforward one. Four riders escaped early on the lumpy run between Mancha Real and Herrera. #PinkArgyle, working for Modolo from the start, assumed control of the chase. The catch was made ten kilometers from the finish.
“They chased all day long and beautifully executed a lead-out,” said team boss Jonathan Vaughters. “Sacha probably had a bit of mala hostia in him from the other day, and he refused to let the win escape him.”
“The train is perfect,” Modolo said. “We barely have to say anything to each other. Everyone already knows what to do. It was too bad not to have Tom [Van Asbroeck] today after his crash yesterday. Otherwise it would have been even better. I am proud to be treated so well in this team.”
For sport director Charly Wegelius, the presence of a sprinter presents a new challenge — one the team has proven ready to embrace: “It’s going good. It’s a new thing for us, this sprint setup. It’s a different way of approaching the races, a different way of managing the riders in the final. It’s a different thing for some of the riders here, too. Two times [here] it’s been a good process. It’s nice to get one on the board. And it’s a nice confidence builder for Sacha moving forward.”
And while the sprint train is new for the team, the pieces were in place all along, according to Vaughters: “The sprint train team and the classics team are kind of the same — you couldn’t get better lead out riders than Sep Vanmarcke, Sebastian Langeveld, and Matti Breschel. And it works the other way, too. Normally this time of year those guys are obsessing over their form for the classics and not keeping a clear head. Having Sacha around, they’re able to focus on him. Then it works both ways — you get a win and it’s good for the team heading into the classics.”
Ruta del Sol continues on Saturday with the race’s second uphill battle. Stage four concludes with a 1.7km ascent at Alcala de los Gazules.