Let’s start from the end, shall we?
After all, you can only claim your coveted first victory once, so when crossing the line first today in the GP Internacional de Torres Vedras in Portugal, 19-year-old Aussie Alastair MacKellar was at loss for words: “I feel quite shocked… I can’t believe I won.”
But it came as no surprise to his DS, the great Ruben Plaza, who believed that he had the “cards” that would bring him the victory – his first as a sports director after enjoying an illustrious career as a rider. Ruben knew it was a matter of who would survive the hilly circuit, and after losing Israeli Edo Goldstein to a crash (he is alright), he still had his two GC contenders, Alastair and his British teammate Mason Hollyman, going strong.
Alastair: “We finished on a hilly circuit with two 1-2 km climbs each lap. I knew I had good legs from the beginning. So, I was happy to just get over the last lap with the climbers, [where] the bunch was reduced to 20-30 riders. I positioned myself well on the final descent to the finish, sprinted early because I had no one to sit on, and somehow just held off the guys behind to win the sprint.”
For Plaza, it was rewarding not only because it was his “first win as a DS, but especially because it’s an indication we are growing as a team.”
Tomorrow, we will try to win the last stage on a mountain top with Hollyman (currently the best young rider, 6th today), and build on today’s success.