IAM Cycling has had a great start for the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014. Stage 1 yesterday (TTT) was a solid performance by the whole team. IAM Cycling crossed the finish line having an average speed of 52,7 km/h losing 50 seconds to the winning team. After the stage I spoke briefly with Kjell Carlström and congratulated about a solid performance. Kjell was pleased with the performance, but said that they have room for improvement. I also asked about stage 2, would that be a stage for Pelucchi and is he in good shape. With a smile he gave me a short answer and stated that Pelucchi is in okay form but will face a hard competition.
And today Matteo Pelucchi did just that, he won the stage 2 with a really outstanding performance in the last 100 m. The last kilometers were really hectic and with just 10 kilometers to go we saw a crash in the peloton. Fortunately IAM Cycling was already well positioned at that time. I had the chance to talk to Kjell after the stage and this was also the plan for IAM Cycling, to be positioned somewhere close to the front well before the finish line. "We had discussed the importance of being in front and the guys executed it perfectly". With just less than 3 km to go we also saw Kittel go down. I asked about if these are situations that you as a sports director inform the team about. "It was not necessary at that point to inform the riders, even if a stage winner favorite goes down, it's up to the riders to do what they do best and to focus on their own thing. Especially that close to the finish, you don't want to confuse the riders".
There were several teams trying to build up a leadout train, but all of those attempts were unsuccessful. It was almost chaotic at times, as it tends to be close to the finish line at a sprint stage. At a point it looked as if IAM Cycling riders could be trapped on the left side of the bunch. I asked how IAM Cycling had planned the last km and if they tried to do a leadout for Pelucchi. "A leadout was not our intention, we wanted to bring Pelucchi to a good position for the final sprint, and they riders performed exactly as we had planned. Sprints are always hectic and one moment you can be trapped and a second later you might find a perfect gap to break through for a sprint. When it comes to the final kilometer and meters it's all about your instincts and trying to feel how your legs are and to decide when to launch your sprint. We've been close many times this year, but today we finally got all those pieces right".
Watching the final 100 m on TV, one could see that Pelucchi first had to move sideways from left to right and then round Greipel from the right side. He actually tracked more meters than many other riders in the final 100 m. According to Carlström there was a slight headwind and Pelucchi managed to time his sprint perfectly taking advantage of Greipel's rear wheel. A solid performance by a young sprinter. "It was really well done by Pelucchi and the whole team leading Pelucchi to a such a great position. And of course a great honor to win in front of the home crowd, taking his first big victory in Italy. At the same time it is a big moment for the whole IAM Cycling team, winning on this level".
You can read an interview and reactions by Matteo Pelucchi himself on IAM Cycling website. This victory he dedicates to Kristof Goddaert.
“This victory is for you, Kristof. I gave everything I had to have this chance to dedicate a win to you up there, from where you are looking down and watching us.”-Matteo Pelucchi - IAM Cycling website
Tomorrow is a new day of racing, but after such a great victory I assumed the team will celebrate the win somehow. "Yes, the riders will have a glass of wine at dinner, but tomorrow will be a new and a hard day in the saddle so no more than that."
About stage 3, how is IAM Cycling targeting that, another stage win tomorrow? "It will be a hard day and the final short hill is really hard. Of course we have several cards to play now, but it will be hard. There might also be a chance for a breakaway tomorrow, if a group of 8-10 riders can build up a breakaway that could go all the way. Of course we will look out for those. But for the final sprint, if there's no breakaway we can have Haussler, Elmiger and maybe Pelucchi to go for it".
So tomorrow will be really interesting. IAM Cycling has now achieved at least one of their goals set up, taking a stage win. A good TTT performance was another, maybe that's already two goals achieved? You can read about the other goals in the previous interview with Kjell Carlström here.
So stay tuned for stage 3 tomorrow, live at 14:30 CET on Eurosport. And hopefully we will see some more great performance by IAM Cycling.