ORICA-GreenEDGE controlled the second stage of Tour de Poitou Charentres from start to finish to deliver Aidis Kruopis to back-to-back victories in France. The Lithuanian has extended his overall race lead to eight seconds ahead of tomorrow's double day.
"We took control from the opening kilometers," said Kruopis. "The team allowed three riders to go into the early breakaway from the start."
The trio built up a two minute advantage after ten kilometers of racing. Mechanical issues forced one of the three back to the bunch, and by the mid-point of the race, only one rider remained ahead of the field.
"The break didn't last as long as we might have wanted," explained Kruopis. "Eventually, there was only one rider up the road, and he came back before the last 60 kilometers."
With the bunch back together, new attacks flew up the road. ORICA-GreenEDGE remained attentive on the front, never allowing riders more than 30 seconds.
"Two riders formed a new break that lasted for 30 kilometers," said Kruopis. "The team controlled this move, too and brought it back before the finish. The bunch was together for the sprint, which was our plan."
Leigh Howard and Jens Keukeleire provided another strong lead out.
"Leigh and Jens were in front of me for the last five kilometers," Kruopis explained. "Leigh took us to one kilometer, and Jens took over from there. He dropped me off with 500 meters left, and I took the wheel of [Yauheni] Hutarovich (FDJ-BigMat)."
"I was the third wheel out of the last corner at 300 meters," continued Kruopis. "We slowed for a moment because it was a slight uphill run to the line. I was waiting for the other guys to make their move. Adrien Petit (Cofidis) kicked first, and we started sprinting. I took the same line as Hutarovich, and I managed to pass him before the line to win."
Bonus seconds available at three intermediate sprints and on the finish reshuffled the general classification top-ten. Kruopis remains in the race lead, eight seconds ahead of Hutarovich. Along with leading the general classification, Kruopis sits atop the points classification with three stages left to race. Two of those three stages come tomorrow with a morning road stage followed by an afternoon time trial.
"We are looking forward to the time trial," said Kruopis. "Luke [Durbridge] is targeting the stage and can perform very well here."