Good job for Hofland in hectic final kilometres

Moreno Hofland finished seventh in Paris-Nice stage one today in Contres, France. The young sprinter had to make a big effort, but he wanted to deliver a good final sprint. Russian Alexander Kristoff from team Katusha won the stage.

“It was a boring day,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said clearly. “That’s a pity, because this profile was perfect to form echelons, but there wasn’t any wind at all. And so it became two-hundred boring kilometres.”

Zeeman went to northern France last week to see if the wind could be a factor, but today found nothing. Only early attackers Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne Séché) provided any sort of worry for the peloton. The two, however, were reeled in with 1.5 kilometres remaining.

“That was none of our business”, Zeeman said. “The sprinters teams had to close the gap to the attackers, we only tried to protect Wilco and help Moreno as well as possible.”

That help for Hofland was good enough, but he was still short of the win.

“The guys accompanied me very well and I chose to stay close with André Greipel and Arnaud Demare afterwards,” Hofland explained. “I was a little unlucky afterwards, because both of them lost their team-mates and they weren’t a factor in the sprint at all. I really wanted to do the sprint today, so I tried to go to the front by swerving through the peloton. I reached the slipstream of Michael Matthews. I was hoping that he would have start sprinting, but he wasn’t fresh enough, I guess. Given how the final kilometres went, I’m satisfied with my performance. I never finished that close in a stage with such flat final kilometres as today.”

Good legs
That gives Hofland extra hope for tomorrow when stage two is expected to finish in a sprint. “After today I know that I have good legs,” Hofland said. “I can coach my team-mates a little bit better tomorrow during the final kilometres. But in the last kilometre, I have to do it on my own. I am confident about my chances.”

Merijn Zeeman is confident about his young sprinter, too. “Moreno really showed well today and we’re going to help him as good as we can tomorrow. We must make a plan now to help him and to protect Wilco at the same time.”

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