The stage ran smoothly for Team SmartStop who had the goal of putting riders into the early breaks and being present throughout the whole 141km stage. The conditions were perfect with clear skis and little wind, and the stage was pancake flat on an out and back course starting and finishing in Santo Domingo, with the final 50km of racing along the main highway. The break formed at the 43km mark and by 70km they original four man break had increased to seven and had a lead of two minutes.
“It was attack after counter attack,” said Eric, “we were always represented in a breakaway and that was the goal. As long as there were some strong riders like those from the Colombian teams we needed to make sure we had representation.”
Eric was happy to have his teammate Rob with him in the breakaway group, knowing that there was a good chance the break would be able to stay away.
“I was very happy to have Rob with me, there was four Colombians, one Latvian, one Canadian and one American, as the pace stayed hard and steady we lost a rider,” said Eric of the final 70km of the stage, “the pace stayed high and I began to think of the scenarios that would not be good for Rob or I to have a good shot at winning.”
“As we hit the 5km to go mark all together, I began to realize that we would have a good shot at winning.”
The peloton was content with letting the breakaway gather a lead of over seven minutes, and after a flurry of attacks within the breakaway, Rob was able to hold the gaps and eventually launched his own attack with 2km to but was chased by a Colombian rider. While they marked each other, Eric made his move around the two to take the win with a five second lead.
“I let loose around the outside knowing that if I could get the headwind I could get the win.”
Directeur Sportif, Michael Creed, is extremely impressed with the team’s first outing. “I’m really happy. While trying to contain myself as to what this can mean for the team,” he said.
With a start like this, Team SmartStop is looking forward to seeing where this success can take them throughout the year, Michael says: “I’m just really excited that we started the year right. And hopefully that raises the bar within the team to a level we can maintain for the rest of the year.”
The remaining Team SmartStop riders finished safely in the bunch and will be preparing for a tough day tomorrow defending the yellow jersey. Stage two, the longest of the tour, is 177km from Santo Domingo to Samama.
“As for yellow, it’s going to be so hard. Those Colombians are flying.”
1. Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop) 3:08:08
2. Gediminas Kaupas (Team Differdange-Losch)
3. Rob Britton (Team SmartStop)