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Tim Wellens collected his first win of 2018 by winning a two-man sprint at Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana Friday, the second day of Challenge Mallorca.
Lotto-Soudal’s Belgian breakaway specialist beat Sky’s Gianni Moscon in the dash to the line after 140 kilometers of hilly racing. Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, in just his second race back after a traumatic injury in stage 1 of the Tour de France last July, was a surprising third place.
In the race’s closing kilometers, Valverde was a primary instigator, attacking a small lead group that was about three minutes ahead of the peloton.
“Valverde attacked uphill when Jasper De Buyst and Rémy Mertz were setting the pace,” said Wellens. “I responded to his attack and got in a front group of five. We were going really hard the first 10 minutes and soon we had a few minutes advantage. It was clear that one of us would win the race.”
On the next descent, down Puig Major, Moscon and Wellens put Valverde under pressure. The Spaniard rejoined the two, but couldn’t make a final attack stick and was again distanced on the final descent.
“In the descent, Moscon and I created a gap again. A sprint between the two of us would determine the winner. We knew you had to be first to enter the last corner at 200 meters from the finish. It was a fair sprint, man against man,” Wellens added.
The Challenge Mallorca continues Saturday with the Trofeo Lloseta-Andratx. Although this 165.8km race includes two categorized climbs midway through, it might not favor the pure climbers as much as Friday’s race.