21st March 2012 | Source: Endura Team Release | Photo by Etienne Garnier
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Ian Wilkinson won Wednesday's third stage at the Tour de Normandie (UCI 2.2) in Gaillon in the first of the day’s two road stages.
With the shorter of the two stages up first, racing got underway right from the flag and with 45km to go, Wilkinson worked his way into a break of five, with a good combination of teams and riders. The break’s lead quickly grew to over two minutes and it wasn’t until the race hit 15km to go that the peloton started making serious inroads into the lead. Ian out-kicked his breakaway companions to record his first win of the year and took the Eco Citoyen jersey into the afternoon stage.
The afternoon’s stage of 100km from Aubevoye to Elbeuf-sur-Seine once again saw some frenetic action and Endura Racing rode an intelligent race, keeping out of trouble and in the front group. Jonny McEvoy was Endura's best placed rider in 6th place. Ian Wilkinson now sits 5th on GC.
Ian Wilkinson reflected on the win at the end of the day: "The short stage was always going be fast and after the work we did yesterday to limit time losses, we definitely wanted to have someone in a move today. Chance was with me and along with the others we motored on over a couple of KOMs on very undulating roads but I did my share and we all worked well into the finish, maintaining around a minute gap at the line.
"I didn't want a repeat of last year's Tour of Britain stage, so picked a man who had seemed really strong all stage (an won the combativity prize). I stuck with him until 150m before hitting out.
"The whole team is flying at the moment, so I'm really happy to contribute further to Endura Racing's success."
Meanwhile in Italy at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali (UCI 2.1), the team performed strongly in another split stage. Rene Mandri, Iker Camaño, Paul Voß and UCI Europe Tour Leader, Jon Tiernan-Locke, all finished in the front group in the morning’s road stage to finish in the same time as the Elia Viviani (Liquigas) won the bunch sprint.
In the afternoon’s team time trial, Endura Racing set the fastest time on a technically demanding circuit in Gatteo halfway through proceedings and were only bettered by Team Netapp to finish in 2nd. The result propelled Mandri, Camaño, Voß and Tiernan-Locke into 7th to 10th places on GC respectively.
Alexander Wetterhall: "The team time trial (TTT) today was a very positive experience for me, this was my first TTT on a TT bike ever and we performed very well together. Everybody is strong, going well and the circuit fitted into our style of riding. For myself, I am in a good mood right now and have been very close to getting a win. With a few more rounds of TTTs we can be even better, smoother and faster. I think it´s great fun to race my bike right now and if everything clicks, then the results will be there. Endura Racing have had an amazing start to the season and this shows that we're not just strong as individuals but also as a team! Frustratingly close to the win today though, congratulations to NetApp."
Rene Mandri: "We had a good TTT today. Everybody did their part and we could really count on Wetterhall and Camaño and their extra strong pulls. They are the TT men of the team, but the other lads are fast too and together we could do a lot better with some extra TT training on our new Giant TT bikes. So watch out and in future we're going to win such races!"
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