27. — 30. 7. 2023


27. — 30. 7. 2023

Kukrle second in the final stage of the SAZKA Tour, third-placed Rota took overall victory

Lorenzo Rota of Italy, the overall leader, changed wheels on the course, but in the end got close enough to the front group with the help of his teammates and finished third today, narrowly defending the yellow jersey for the overall winner of this prestigious stage race. At the finish tape, he beat Dane Anthon Charming, who was threatening his overall lead, by just three hundredths of a second. Jan Hirt, the best Czech in the overall standings, finished twelfth today.

"Today is my lucky day. The team worked hard for four days and it bore fruit," rejoiced Rota, who was still behind Charming just a few metres from the finish line and overtook him at the tape. "It was challenging, but I'm satisfied. The breakaway was not a problem today, we knew we would finish, but the finish was dramatic," said Intermarché-Wanty team leader, Gobert Materiaux.

Around twenty kilometres from the start, the peloton split into several groups, at the front was a group of over ten riders including three Czechs – Kukrle, Daniel Turek and Karel Camrda. The bunch held the lead for most of the stage and Dutchman, Mathijs Paaschens, threatened the yellow jersey of Italian Lorenzo Rota. But the team remained calm, even though the peloton was at times almost five minutes behind. At the end of the stage, it was Czech cyclist, Jan Hirt, who was very involved in chasing down the leading group and tearing up the field.

Approximately 60 kilometres from the finish line, a pair of cyclists, Guerin and Kukrle (who won the last stage of the Sazka Tour in 2018), pulled away from the leading group. The lead of this daring duo looked very promising, and in the end the peloton failed to catch them. Kukrle, who competed at the Tokyo Olympics, could not stay with the Frenchman in the final sprint, and had to settle for second, finishing 4 seconds back. In the last kilometres, the field broke up, and Rota finished another 24 seconds back.

"The breakaway took a long time to develop – it was a difficult time. They were after us, it was very difficult to get there, we had to go very fast over the first three hills," said Kukrle at the finish. From a large group, he broke away before Moravský Beroun, gained a lead and was joined by Guerin. "I was happy, we worked together until the final hill," said Kukrle. While in the first stage he was sorry for the third place, today he was satisfied. "He was stronger today, he had better legs, I couldn't do more," he acknowledged.

Even before the race, Kukrle had believed in the first and last stages. "I'm glad that I succeeded, that I was seen, that I got good results. In the first stage, I could have done it differently at the end, but today it was about performance, it couldn't have been better. I believe that these results will help me as the season develops. I want to prepare mainly for the World Championships, that's a big motivation for me," added Kukrle.

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