The team’s return to European racing action got off to a scintillating start on Thursday at the Vuelta Castilla y Leon, a 181km journey through northwestern Spain. After a blistering first hour of racing, Canadians Nickolas Zukosky and Pier-André Coté forced their way into the early break where Zukowsky won the Premio Montaña prize while Coté bagged enough intermediate sprint points to claim the Metas Volantes competition.
As the breakaway group entered the finish circuits with a healthy gap over the disorganized peloton behind, Zukowsky found himself in a position to contest the overall win but a late crash took him out of contention. Despite the physical and mental toll of a mishap so close to the finish, Zukowsky composed himself, latching onto an elite group of chasers and winning the sprint for fourth on the day.
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“It was a bit of a rollercoaster,” laughed Zukowsky. “I felt good today and was confident with my chances of going deep in the race but it’s a bittersweet result because I was in the mix for a big result and went down. I’m still happy with fourth considering the events and how well the team rode.”
In addition to Zukowsky and Coté’s classification wins, the team also won the team category thanks to Ben King’s eighth-place finish and a top-15 result from Gavin Mannion.
After claiming the 🏔 prize, @NickolasZukows2 wins the sprint for fourth and @BenKing89 claims eighth at @VueltaCyL!
Add those results to @PierAndrCt1’s victory in the Meta Volantes comp and we’d say it was a great day 🤩 #VueltaCyL2021 pic.twitter.com/L6oLHGJj4E
— Rally Cycling (@Rally_Cycling) July 29, 2021
“The guys rode awesome today,” said performance manager Jonas Carney. “They were aggressive from the start and didn’t miss a single move. The goal was to win the sprint competition or the KOM but they executed perfectly and ended up winning both competitions.”
Cycling is a team sport after all and you can’t underestimate the importance of experience and trust among teammates.
“It was great having P-A in the break,” added Zukowsky. “We have great chemistry on the bike and never have to talk too much. We each knew what the other needed to win the classifications and then he gave everything he had to keep me clear for the finale.”
The team now heads to the Circuito de Getxo on August 1 before splitting between the Volta a Portugal and Tour of Denmark.