Welten Secures Top Ten Finish After Crash-Marred Finale in France22. August 2017, Saintes (FRA) — Road Team
Bram Welten, one of two stagiaires with BMC Racing Team this season, secured a top ten finish on the opening day of racing at Tour du Poitou-Charentes after a crash-marred finale saw him contest the bunch sprint against a very competitive field.
The breakaway formed early on stage 1 with five riders going clear after just 5km of racing. The peloton was happy to sit up and allow their advantage to rise quickly before, after the first of four categorized climbs, La Bourtière-Sezais, it began to bounce around the four-minute mark with 150km of racing still to come.
Heading into the second half of the 199.5km course, an increase in pace at the front of the peloton saw the breakaway’s advantage quickly cut in half. The gap stabilized slightly before it rose once again to three minutes as the leaders swept up the final KOM points at the summit of 800m climb to Les Plassinauds with 76km to go.
The final chase began just 10km later with another injection of pace seeing the main bunch trailing by just 1’20” before finally, the two remaining breakaway riders were caught and the race hit the reset button on the approach to the final 18km finishing circuit around Saintes.
With a bunch sprint up for grabs at the end of the day, the sprinters’ teams came to the front of the peloton and began to set the tempo in a determined effort to control the final run into the line.
As the battle for position began, nerves shook the peloton with a crash 5km from the finish splitting the field and, in the end, just 40 riders remained out in front to contest the final sprint, which was eventually won by Elia Viviani (Team Sky).
After launching his sprint early, Welten was able to stay in the mix in a hectic finale and crossed the line ninth with Jempy Drucker, Martin Elmiger, Miles Scotson and Nathan Van Hooydonck also finishing in the front group.
Fortunately, no BMC Racing Team riders were involved in the crash, but Tom Bohli, Brent Bookwalter, and Joey Rosskopf were caught behind and consequently lost contact with the main group.
Quotes From the Finish Line
"It was a pretty fast finish, and the guys kept me in front on the local lap. There was a bit of a descent, and then the last 500m were uphill. Not really steep but still uphill. Miles Scotson and Jempy Drucker launched me into my sprint and I went with around 250m to go. It was maybe a bit too early, but Jempy told me that it was better to go a little early and do my sprint than to get boxed in and not be able to sprint at all. It was really cool to have Jempy help me like this. It is pretty rare to have an opportunity to sprint like that as a stagiaire, and it was great to have him give me some advice. I am really happy that they gave me a chance today."
Sports Director, Valerio Piva:
"It was a long stage, and almost immediately we saw a breakaway go clear, and for most of the day, it was Cofidis and Team Sky controlling before the race was brought back together for the final circuit. The plan was to try and help Jempy Drucker, and Bram Welten for the sprint and the team needed to be around both guys. Unfortunately, around 5km from the finish, there was a big crash, and although no one was involved, Brent Bookwalter, Tom Bohli, and Joey Rosskopf were forced to stop behind, and they lost some time. The rest of the guys were in the front group helping set up the bunch sprint, and Bram eventually finished ninth which is a good result for the young kid. It is a pity though as this race will be decided on day three with the time trial and now three of our specialists have lost time. We will still to ride aggressively and try to win a stage but this race is definitely suited to sprinters, and we will see what we can do."
Tour du Poitou-Charentes
Stage 1: Bressuire > Saintes, 199.5km
Top 3: 1. Elia Viviani (Team Sky) 2. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) 3. Danilo Napolitano (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 9. Bram Welten 36. Martin Elmiger 41. Nathan Van Hooydonck