8.—11. 6. 2023 UCI Europe Tour

Pavel Bittner comes second in the first stage of the U23 Peace Race, and claims the yellow jersey  

Although Czech cyclist Pavel Bittner was unable to repeat last year's victory in the first stage of the Under-23 Peace Race, he came a close second on the route from Jeseník to Rýmařov and claims the yellow jersey of the overall leader. The 131-kilometre stage, including the Červenohorské sedlo, was won by Danish rider Sebastian Kolze Changizi, who defeated Bittner by 17 hundredths. The leader after the prologue, Mathias Vacek of the Czech team, finished in 37th place and dropped to fourth in the overall standings.


"We had a few more things to worry about today as our team included the man in yellow. However, I wanted to confirm my performance of last year and I knew I had what it takes. I like the finish here, I wanted to win," said Bittner after the race. "But it wasn't as smooth as last year, I had a worse run to the finish line, so I decided to go for it and sprinted from about 300 metres out - from the turn to the finish. Unfortunately, one rider was faster, but I can be satisfied," said the new overall race leader. "It's a great feeling, at least for one stage, it's an honour," he said. 

His task on Saturday's stage, that finishes on the dreaded peak of Dlouhé stráně, which the riders climb twice, is to help the winner of Thursday's prologue, Mathias Vacek, who would like to go for overall victory in the race. "I'm really looking forward to it, I like the hills, but I'm not here for the overall standings; my goal was today's stage. I have to help Mathias tomorrow and we'll see how it goes," said Bittner.

Right at the start, the Dutch rider, Owen Geleijn and the Slovak rider, Filip Lohinský combined to break away. Together they built a lead of up to seven minutes. However, first the Slovak cyclist slowed down and then the Dutch rider was caught by the pack before arriving in Rýmařov. The main peloton thus reached the finish line together after three circuits around Rýmařov. Saturday's stage may well decide the overall winner, as it includes two climbs to the top of Dlouhé stráně. The whole stage is 134 kilometres long and has an elevation gain of 2,770 metres.

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