Race report

Tim Naberman and Leon Heinschke on the attack at Paris Tours Espoirs

Paris-Tours Espoirs

Development Team Sunweb were in action for their last race of the year today at the difficult Paris-Tours. With a parcours that featured several gravel sections, some tricky hills and exposed areas of road where the wind could have an effect; it was set to be a tough day in the saddle.

It was a benign start to the day though and a group of four riders escaped early into the race, with all the Development program riders in the peloton. Those ahead built up a large lead of over 12 minutes as the peloton ambled along at a steady pace into a strong headwind. However, as the race approached the half way point, a change in direction saw an increase in pace as teams attempted to force a split in the crosswinds. Tim Naberman rode well to make the front split of around 25 riders before things somewhat regrouped and more riders, including Leon Heinschke, joined the head of the race.

The gap to the now solo leader increased as the race calmed down but it would soon spark into life again as the bunch hit the first of the gravel sectors. Once again the race completely exploded and both Heinschke and Naberman were active at the front, with both of them making it into a 14-rider strong group that broke clear. The group would split up again on the next section of gravel and Heinschke was attentive to make it into the front four. Unfortunately at that moment Naberman had a puncture so lost contact with the chasing group behind.

A solo rider attacked out of the leading quartet and with a lack of cooperation in the group, it turned out to be the winning move. Heinschke and his breakaway companions kept pushing on but they were caught by the bunch heading into the finale. The attacks continued and another rider managed to escape for second place, with the reduced bunch then fighting it out for the final podium spot. After attacking a lot earlier in the day, Heinschke ended the race finishing just outside the top ten.

“It was a long day with a lot of headwind in the beginning,” explained Heinschke. “After around 95 kilometres we had crosswinds and that was the part which split the bunch into small pieces. I was with Tim in the front group and we were in a good position into the first climb and gravel section. A little bit later I was able to get into a break of four which stayed away for a while but unfortunately Tim had a puncture at that moment and was no longer in the group behind. My break was caught inside the last ten kilometres and from then there were just attacks all the way to the line. Towards the finale it mostly came back together but I messed up my sprint a bit and missed the chance of a top result.”

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert added: “It was an epic race to end our season today with echelons in the middle and then the gravel sections towards the finish. On the gravel sections we had Tim and Leon in a group of around 20 riders which was good and they both rode a really good race. Tim unfortunately had a puncture and fell back from that point. Leon was on the attack in a group of four, then a group of three, before it came back together and around 15 riders fought for the podium. I think he rode a really strong race but we can still take some improvement points from the final. I think in general we can be satisfied with today and I think it gives us some extra motivation for the longer training period in the winter.”