Five of Etixx – Quick-Step’s new riders have already recorded a success this season, the most recent to make his way to the list being Davide Martinelli.
Three-time ITT national champion in the amateur ranks, Martinelli was leading teammate Fernando Gaviria in the final kilometer of the second stage of Tour La Provence, when a couple of riders hit the ground in a tight left corner with less than 200 meters left to the line. Davide, who hails from a family with a strong background in cycling, was well-positioned at the front and this allowed him to avoid the incident and get clear together with Gaviria.
At the finish in Istres, the Colombian didn’t contest the sprint, so the 22-year-old Italian was the one who raised his arms in celebration after nailing his maiden pro victory in the peloton, and the 12th of Etixx – Quick-Step in 2016. Czech champion Petr Vakoc, who is leading the young riders classification, was 18th on the stage and kept his second place in the overall standings of La Provence, seven seconds behind leader Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie).
“It’s an incredible feeling, I’m over the moon about it. We worked hard today behind the five escapees, and this is a victory of the entire team. For me, it’s the best day of my life, that I can say. Riding with this team is a real honour and a pleasure. Now I will probably need a couple of days to realize what has just happened”, said Davide Martinelli after the stage.
The Italian, who made his debut in the Etixx – Quick-Step jersey last month, at the Tour Down Under, continued: “In the finale I was at the front, as my job was to lead Fernando. I came out of the last corner in first position with Fernando on my wheel, and when I took a look over my shoulder I saw that it was only me and him, as some riders have crashed. We had a good gap, looked one another in the eyes and agreed on the outcome, so Fernando gave me the win. He was class act and I can’t thank him enough for this. I will rest now and on Thursday I will give it my best to repay Fernando. We are roommates in La Provence, and I got to know him better and see what a great person he is. He has the DNA of a great champion and I’m sure he’ll win many races in the future. Today, he made a great gesture, and he has my gratitude for that.”
The last stage of Tour La Provence (La Ciotat – Marseille, 171 kilometers) is a rolling one in the first part of the course, but the road will flatten in the last 60 kilometers, which means the three-day race is very likely to conclude with a bunch sprint.