Frenchman Pierre Gautherat has won the first stage of the Under-23 Peace Race, which went from Jeseník to Rýmařov and measured 122 kilometres, thus repeating his triumph in Thursday's opening prologue. For the second stage on Saturday, with the finish on Červenohorské sedlo, he will once again start in the yellow jersey of race leader. Jakub Ťoupalík of the Czech Republic finished seventh today; overall the best domestic rider is 34.
Immediately after the start, the cyclists had to climb Červenohorské sedlo, where Dutchman Mike Schuch arrived first for the climbing bonus. After the start, he broke away from the peloton together with David Preyler of Austria, but their break away did not last long. After about fifty kilometres, Gautherat had a mechanical problem after a minor collision with a rival and had to change the entire bike. But that didn't stop him. The Dutchman Schuch later won the second climbing premium on Skrítek.
"Changing the bike was not a big problem for me, after the collision it somehow stopped working, so I changed it. I was starting somewhere from tenth position to the finish line, the guys from the team did an excellent job and I made it. A great race," said the talented French rider at the finish, praising his teammates for a great sprint.
It started raining heavily just before the halfway point of the stage, which resulted in a pile up involving several riders near Dolní Moravice and also another major accident not far from the finish line. Pavel Novák, who until that point was the best of the
Czechs in the overall standings, had to change bikes after the accident and lost contact with the main peloton.
The riders picked up the pace and some intense racing took place during the three circuits of Rýmařov. The rainy weather persisted until the finish, where the winner was decided in a sprint on the square. Gautherat's national team teammates prepared an excellent position, which the leader was able to turn into another triumph.
Ťoupalík didn’t quite have the legs to reach the podium. "Today was very hectic, dangerous and there were a lot of falls, so I'm glad that I reached the finish line safely. The final circuit is quite technical in itself, it's even worse in the wet. Towards the finish we tried to start a sprint with Milan (Kadlec), but it went down at a corner and slowed us, so we had to pick up again," said Jakub Ťoupalík.