A flawless lead-out of Maximiliano Richeze helped the 22-year-old capture his first win of the season and the leader’s jersey.
The look of sheer joy in Alvaro Hodeg’s eyes as he crossed the line spoke volumes of how important was for the young Colombian to break the ice and notch up his maiden victory of the year in front of the thousands of countrymen who gathered in La Ceja, where the 150.5km-long stage 2 of the Tour Colombia came to an end after a hectic finale.
“This win is of the entire team, they did an impressive job and I am really grateful for their work. We raced for the stage, as the GC wasn’t on our radar today. I focused on my sprint and I am happy of how things unfolded at the end of the day. This victory is the best way to celebrate my two-year contract extension with the team”, an elated Alvaro explained after his win, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s fifth of 2019.
Following a frustrating start to the season in Argentina, which saw him conclude twice on the podium at the Vuelta a San Juan, Hodeg was motivated to get a victory at his home race, where he returned as Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s designated sprinter, backed by a strong and experienced team, who committed to chasing the six-man breakaway and made sure of not leaving anything to chance in the closing kilometers, as the adrenaline was running high in the peloton.
Benefitting from the speed, skill and expert lead-out of the well-drilled Deceuninck – Quick-Step blue train, which stretched out the field under the red kite, Alvaro accelerated off the wheel of the incredible Maximiliano Richeze and opened up his sprint with 150 meters to go, outclassing all his opponents and beating them by a clear margin in La Ceja, a town located some 200 kilometers north-west of the country’s capital.
Wednesday’s victory carried a special bonus for Alvaro – ten seconds – which took him to the top of the general classification, as he became the youngest rider to lead the race since its inception.
“Today’s stage was more difficult than we had expected. We rode full gas behind the breakaway with Iljo and Petr, and then pushed really hard on the last lap, where Bob did an incredible job to close the gap inside the final ten kilometers. Then Julian and Maxi brought me in a great position and all that I had to do was to finish it off with a well-timed sprint. I am happy and proud, it feels great to lead my home race in front of these amazing fans”, said Hodeg, who also holds the points classification and best young rider jerseys at the Tour Colombia, the fourth stage race he gets to lead, after Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Pologne and the Deutschland Tour.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images