Josef Cerny became the fourth different Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider in the last five years and the first Czech in almost two decades to triumph at the Tour of Slovakia, which came to a conclusion Saturday afternoon, in Kosice.
Having taken the yellow jersey at the end of the queen stage, Josef entered the last day of the race with a slim lead of three seconds in the general classification, but soon after the start he doubled that advantage, thanks to the bonifications scored at the first intermediate sprint, where he was excellently launched by Michael Mørkøv.
The pace relented afterwards and eight riders took advantage of that to break clear, while behind our team was content to keep the gap in check and protect Josef Cerny. Despite the peloton’s forcing inside the final ten kilometers, two of the men in the front survived at the front, and Jasper Haest (VolkerWessels) took the victory, a handful of seconds ahead of the chasers.
Mørkøv led home the bunch, followed by Ethan Vernon – the winner of the first two stages – while Josef Cerny concluded safely in the group and wrapped up the general classification. His teammate Mauri Vansevenant made it an impressive Wolfpack 1-2 in the country of our sponsor Janom, while neo-pro Martin Svrcek took the prize for the best Slovak rider of the race.
“I’m very happy with the first GC victory of my career. The fact that it came in our last stage race of the season, after what has been an up-and-down year for me, makes it even more special. I arrived here straight from Canada and didn’t know how things would be, but I had good legs and surprised myself with how I made it over the climbs. We had a strong team, we held the yellow jersey from the first until the last stage, and were very motivated the entire week. It was a hard race, but I’m delighted I could bring it home for the Wolfpack and our sponsor Janom”, Josef said after scoring Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s 46th victory of the season.
“It was a difficult edition of the Tour of Slovakia and the other teams made it hard for us, but the guys showed a lot of character and we can be proud of what we achieved. Josef fought valiantly, especially on the queen stage, where he won the race. It’s nice that a guy who always works for the team gets in this position and he can be happy with the victory and the incredible determination he showed”, added sports director Tom Steels.
Photo credit: ©Jan Melicher