Development Team Sunweb’s Nils Eekhoff sprinted to 3rd place at the U23 edition of Paris-Tours today, as two riders in the break stayed away to take the day’s honours.
It was a hectic opening to proceedings at Paris-Tours Espoirs today, with an eventual seven man move going clear in the first 20 kilometres. Staying tucked in the bunch, Development Team Sunweb remained in prime position for the difficult sections, with four riders in the first echelon when the bunch split. Gravel sections and difficult terrain saw riders suffering mechanicals, but the team were able to rejoin the first main group with 20 kilometres to the finish. With the three men up the road having a steady advantage over the peloton, the bunch were left to contest third place. The newly crowned U23 world champion Marc Hirschi put in a mountain of work at the front of the bunch to catch one of the break, and Nils Eekhoff was able to finish off the team’s hard work with his sprint to 3rd.
Nils said: “I’m really proud of the performance and team spirit we had today. We did a good job being in the first echelon with four riders and after the first two gravel sections Niklas was in a good breakaway. Unfortunately on the next section we had a lot of trouble with flat tyres everywhere. We didn’t stop and made our own pace back towards what was left of the first echelon, catching Niklas after he had two flat tyres. Once we made it back, there were already three riders off the front with around one and a half minutes. Marc set a really hard pace and chased hard for the final 15 kilometres with no help of other riders or teams in the first group. He managed to catch one of the one riders and I’m really happy that I could finish off the strong job of all our guys winning the sprint for 3rd place.”
Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert said: “At the beginning everything went perfectly and we had four riders in the front after the crosswind section. The gravel roads brought us quite some bad luck with punctures; Niklas was in the race winner’s leading group but punctured and had to change bike, he ended up with the wrong pedals so couldn’t get back. Nils, Florian and Marc also punctured and were quite behind the leading group but managed to come back. We had quite some bad luck but the guys were super strong as a team. Their drive and determination to fight back was impressive and the team showed what a high level they are amongst the U23 riders.”