Simon Spilak gave Katusha-Alpecin one of two stage race victories this week: while the Slovenian sealed the overall Tour de Suisse for the second time in his career with a solid final time trial, across Europe his teammate Jose Goncalves won the Ster ZLM Toer.
While the Tour de Suisse is often used as a warm-up and form check for the Tour de France, Spilak has no such ambitions, and his next race will be the Tour of Poland.
“No Grand Tours for me since 2014 – this is my own decision,” Spilak said. “I prefer stage races of six to 10 days. Of course, it would be nice to win a Tour de France stage or to become world champion.”
Spilak pulled out his winning margin in the race with a strong ride to the summit at Sölden on stage 7, heading into the final time trial with a rather comfortable 52-second lead on BMC’s Damiano Caruso.
Despite suffering in the heat of the day, Spilak lost just four seconds to his Italian rival. “This was a very hard day and difficult TT,” Spilak said. “It was harder than we expected. We did our recon of the route in the morning. By this afternoon it was so hot, but I am so happy.
“I am happy for my teammates, too. All week all of them did such a great job. Temperature is my biggest enemy here in Suisse, but I beat the heat this time.”
Scully claims final Route du Sud stage
Cannondale-Drapac’s Tom Scully finished off the Route du Sud with the team’s second consecutive stage victory on Sunday on the motor sports race track in Nogaro. Inspired by his teammate Pierre Rolland’s win on the previous mountain stage, the 27-year-old Kiwi nevertheless did not expect to be fighting for victory on what should have been a sprinter’s stage.
“I wasn’t particularly aiming for a stage win coming into this race, but it’s always on the cards when you can have the freedom to get in the breakaway,” Scully said. “So you just have to be ready.”
The breakaway came onto the track with just 20 seconds over the chasing peloton, but just managed to hold on as the chasers made contact during the sprint. Scully, a former Commonwealth Games team pursuit gold medalist, powered away from the group to take out his first win of the year.
“I felt strong. I’m happy with how the condition is after a big block of training following the Classics,” he said.
“Looking back on La Route du Sud overall, I loved it, even the big day yesterday over the Tourmalet,” Scully said. “For me, it was the first time racing in the big, big mountains, so it was pretty cool to do that.”
Van Aert gunning for Belgian road title after Bruges victory
After taking out the bunch sprint in Ride Bruges (Bruges Cycling Classic) on Sunday, cyclo-cross world champion Wout Van Aert scored his second consecutive victory of the road season and has moved into the position of being a favourite for the Belgian national championships next week.
Van Aert powered to the win in Bruges ahead of ‘cross rival Mathieu van der Poel. In a banner day for the stars of the field, Sanne Cant also chalked up a win in the Prosperpolder national race.
Van Aert started his road season in May after taking his post-Worlds rest and said he struggled to get through the month. By the end of May, he led the Baloise Belgium Tour for one stage after the time trial. Last week, he finally claimed his first road win of the year at the Ronde van Limburg before repeating in Bruges.
“I had to get through May, but in the last few weeks I have had good form,” Van Aert said to Sporza. “I’m looking forward to the [national] championships, Thursday’s time trial and Sunday on the road. I’m going to try to cash in on my form.”
Van der Poel aiming at mountain bike marathon Worlds
Coming second in the sprint behind Wout Van Aert in Bruges, Mathieu van der Poel was pleased with his performance especially in light of the fact he just returned from a training camp in France where he put in rides of more than 200km in the mountains.
The Dutchman will not focus on the road national championships, however, choosing instead to head to Germany for the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Singen.
“I had a few tricky days, but this will give confidence next week,” Van der Poel said to Sporza.
While Van Aert announced his intention focus on the road next year, Van der Poel is still keeping his future plans to himself. “I already have plans in my mind, but they are not concrete yet, that’s for later.”