February 24, 2014 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – After finishing on the podium in third on Stage 1 at the Vuelta Independencia Nacional in the Dominican Republic earlier last week – read report here – Canada’s Rob Britton (Team SmartStop) remains in 2nd overall following the cancellation of yesterday’s Stage 4. Fellow Canuck and teammate Zach Bell is 48th overall. See Team SmartStop reports for Stages 3 and 4 below.
Stage 4 Report – Dangerous Conditions Cancel Stage Four Riders use stage to pay homage to Euris Vidal
Stage four of the Vuetla Independencia Nacional was cancelled yesterday after the riders decided that the conditions were not suitable for racing and stopped after six laps of the city circuit stage. Race officials agreed.
“Dangerous! The word of the day,” said Rob Britton post race, “Today’s race was neutralized after only six laps after the head of state within the race decided it was just too dangerous.”
“It started to rain almost immediately after the gun went off and to say the course was like a ice rink would be conservative, guys were getting taken down by the white lines on a straight road!”
Director, Michal Creed, who just landed in the Dominican Republic for the final four days of racing reiterated the dangers on the roads in Santiago saying: “There was a lot of oil, diesel and potholes on the road.”
“With four more days of racing it wasn’t worth it,” explained Rob.
Instead of finishing the stage the peloton paid homage to Euris Vidal who was tragically killed in Santiago late last year. Euris had signed with the InCycle-Predator Cycling team for 2014, so as a sign of respect the peloton rode a neutral lap through the city, his family were present for the stage.
“After we stopped we did one more lap of honor for Euris as his team took to the front and lead us across the line,” explained Rob.
With that, there were no changes in the top order for the general classification and Eric Marcotte holds onto the yellow jersey going into tomorrow’s queen stage. Jure Kocjan rode himself into the lead of the points jersey competition after his stage three win.
Tomorrow’s queen stage is a short stage at just 112km but features five KOM climbs (two Cat three climbs and three Cat two climbs) including the final big one taking the peloton to the finish. Michael believes that Team SmartStop can hit the bottom of the KOM with good positioning and finish the stage off.
“The final KOM is 20km from the finish, hopefully our guys can ride together and save the day!” Michael said.
Rob believes all the teams will come out fighting tomorrow for stage five especially after a shortened stage today. “Four down, five to go. After a bit of a break today you can bet your bottom dollar it will be all guns blazing on tomorrow’s ‘queen’ mountain stage.”
With seven riders within a minute of each other fighting for the overall position of the tour and the main field just over six minutes behind Eric Marcotte’s lead, Team SmartStop will be looking to finish in top positioning over the mountain stage. This is the stage that can shake up the overall classification.
Michael is optimistic but at the same time realistic about the teams chances of holding onto the lead and maintaining the yellow jersey. “I think it will be a challenge for us to win the overall, but it is a race and that is what we will try to do.”
“After the mountain day we’ll see where we are at, but I am hopeful for another couple of stage wins in the sprint finishes.”
Stage 3 Report – Team SmartStop Defends Yellow Jersey
After racing a challenging day of racing, Team SmartStop was present in a group of about 20 riders, including Jure and yellow jersey holder Eric Marcotte, who chased down the lead group within the final 5km of the stage.
“It was not easy, but we raced smart today,” said Jure, ” the speed was high because of the crosswinds, I caught the first group and with 5km to go I decided I wanted to sprint, my legs felt okay.”
It was a team effort that got Jure to the finish line in first place and Eric into 10th, not losing any time on his general classification position. Jure said: “The team did a good job in the final 3km so I won easily.”
As Eric leads the Vuelta Independencia Nacional going into tomorrow’s circuit stage, 104km in Santiago, there are six riders (including Rob Britton who is in 2nd place, 10 seconds back) all within one minute of his lead time so the race for the win is not over and Team SmartStop will still continue to defend the lead over the next five days of racing. Team SmartStop also sits on top of the teams classification after three stages.
The longest stage of the tour at 177km got off to a controlled start, with a flurry of unsuccessful attacks, until the start of the first hill climb at around 65km where three riders made their escape from the peloton. None of the three riders posed a great threat to Eric Marcotte’s General Classification position. Keeping the tempo and ensuring the breakaway were never to far away that it could become a danger to our GC position, it was important to keep the time distance at manageable gap should it need to be reeled in before the finish.
“We had a nice defense of the yellow today, we were never really in any problems,” said Gustavo Carrillo, who is acting as the team’s Directuer Sportif, “The longest day is done and dusted. The guys rode great but the Colombian team [who are 4th and 6th on GC] also helped out quite a bit.”
“They’ll be the guys to beat for sure.”
But, the three breakaway riders managed to stay away with Latvian Janis Dakteris (Team Differdange-Losch) taking the win, just four seconds over the main field. Team SmartStop’s top placed rider was Jure Kocjan finishing in 7th place.
“We’re rolling,” said Gustavo, “The next days are going to be tough but also ok for us, the guys are really motivated and riding well.
“Monday is when we are going to have to fasten our seatbelts on the tough mountain stage.”
Stage 2 – Santo Domingo-Sama – 177km
1. Janis Dakteris (Lat) Defferdange Inteja 4:09:09
2. Maxat Ayazbayev (Kaz) Kazakhstan
3. Calixto Bello (USA) Incycle Predator
4. Wilson Marentes (Col) Formesan
5. Nurbolat Kulimbetov (Kaz) Kazakhstan
6. Andres Diaz (Col) Incycle Predator
7. Jure Kocjan (Slo) Team SmartStop 0:04
8. Boris Carene (Fra) Velo Vetiver
9. Diego Milan (Dom) Defferdange Inteja
10. Barhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kaz) Kazakhstan
26. Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop
52. Zach Bell (Can) Team SmartStop 1:29
Stage 3 – Samana-San Francisco de Macoris – 136km
1. Jure Kocjan (Slo) Team SmartStop 3:02:16
2. Xavier Nieves (Ven) Tachira Concafe
3. Felix Cardenas (Col) Formesan
4. Nurbolat Kulimbetov (Kaz) Kazakhstan
5. Diego Milan (Dom) Defferdange Inteja
6. Alvaro Torres (Ven) Tachira Concafe
7. Rafael Meran (Dom) Finauto
8. Augusto Sanchez (Dom) Defferdange Inteja
9. Sebastian Novoa (Ecu) Team Ecuador
10. Eric Marcotte USA) Team SmartStop
14. Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop 0:04
31. Zach Bell (Can) Team SmartStop
Stage 4 – Santiago Circuit – 39km – CANCELLED
GC after Stage 4
1. Eric Marcotte (USA) Team SmartStop 11:29:56
2. Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop 0:14
3. Andres Diaz (Col) Incycle Predator 0:15
4. Edwin Sanchez (Col) Formesan 0:17
5. Julian Rodas (Col) Formesan
6. Pedro Torres (Col) La Vega Cne 0:22
7. Gedimias Kaupas (Lit) Defferdange Inteja 0:51
8. Maxat Ayazbayev (Kaz) Kazakhstan 6:25
9. Janis Dakteris (Lat) Defferdange Inteja 6:25
10. Jure Kocjan (Slo) Team SmartStop 6:35
48. Zach Bell (Can) Team SmartStop 8:14