Team Santic-Wibatech- Belgrade Banjaluka 2.1 Race
Bartosz Rudyk, Piotr Pekala, Patrick Haller, Michel Peter, Pawel Szostka, Jonas Sonnleitner, Bartlomiej Proc
The opener of the first 2.1 Tour, called Belgrade Banjaluka, consisted of a short team time trial (TTT). "It went quite well for us. It's quite a good starting position for the next days. With an eleven-second gap to the winning team, anything is still possible," said team captain Patrick Haller after the short prologue, which, apart from two turns, did not present any major technical difficulties. The team finished in 7th place on this day.
The second day of the tour led our riders over 122 flat kilometres to the town of Bijeljina. Bartosz Rudyk came in third in the sprint and improved his overall ranking to 20th place, nine seconds behind the leader.
Before that, his teammates had jumped in on the attacks. "But no group really ever left," Patrick Haller reported. On the circuit, which had to be ridden three times and led to a hectic race due to its many curves, the our team prepared everything for the sprint final. "Unfortunately, we didn't find each other perfectly there, but we worked together quite well," Haller summed up.
On the following day, however, our team had an unlucky day. In a mass crash, about 30 kilometres before the finish, Patrick Haller, Piotr Pekala and Bartosz Rudyk went down. Haller had to abandon the race, but he did not suffer any serious injuries.
Rudyk was able to catch up with the peloton with the help of his team mates, but since eight riders were still separated in the final, there was no sprint, for which our man had expected a lot. "It was disappointing today, because Bartosz had good legs and we were always in a good position until the crash," explained Michael Peter after the race.
The second goal for the stage was to get a rider into the breakaway group of the day. But this did not succeed either. However, this was due to the high race pace, in which no group was able to break away decisively. "There were constant attacks, but only after 100 kilometres was a single rider able to break away and the peloton calmed down a bit," Peter explained. Shortly afterwards, however, the peloton picked up speed again, caught the breakaway and there was the aforementioned mass crash 30 kilometres before the finish.
The third stage was decided by a mountain at the end. Pawel Szostka and Piotr Pekala were the first to cross the finish line in twelfth and 20th place for the team. "Unfortunately, that was all we could do today," said Jonas Sonnleitner.
Before that, Michael Peter had represented our colours in the best possible way. The 20-year-old rode in the breakaway group of the day, but it was stopped before the final. "On the uphill they really made speed, so unfortunately we didn't bring our sprinter Bartosz Rudyk over the top", said Sonnleitner.
The team was able to place sprinter Bartosz Rudyk in third place on the 154.5-kilometre final stage with the finish in Banja Luka. "But since we came very close to our first victory today, the disappointment was big at first," Jonas Sonnleitner admitted. However, in relation to the overall result, we are satisfied with this first big 2.1 tour and can continue to build on it. After our riders worked together excellently in the last few days and achieved two 3rd places and an 11th place in the overall classification.