Romas Zubrickas ranked among the strongest cyclists after the stage race in Belgium
Klaipėda Cycling Team and Viesulas sports center member Romas Zubrickas, representing Lithuanian National team, took the 5th position in the general classification after stage five of „Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich“ junior (17-18 years) stage race held for 54th time in Belgium. That is the most important achievement for a 17-year-old Lithuania National junior champion so far.
© Tomas Gaubys
163 contenders and 28 teams from 12 different countries participated in the race which is included in the International Cycling Union (UCI) calendar. The list of the Top 20 general classification leaders contains 5 British cyclists, 4 cyclists from both Belgium and Germany, 2 riders from both France and USA, and one from both Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
German Kilian Steigner toped General Classification. Belgian L. Cassaert (+3 sec.) – second, Janne van Grieken (+6 sec.) – third, and Frenchman Antoine Raugel (+12 sec.) – fourth. R. Zubrickas lost 12 seconds to winner.
Kęstutis Vaitaitis (+1.43) finished 40th, Mantas Januškevičius (+1.55) – 45th, another Klaipėda team representative Denas Masiulis (+1.55) – 46th, whilst Aristidas Kelmelis (+2.00) – 48th. Alanas Marcinkėnas did not qualified. 121 cyclists were qualified after the stage five.
R. Zubrickas ranked 10th in the points classification. Lithuania national team ranked 9th.
In the second stage R. Zubrickas finished 20th, in the third stage – 4th, in the fourth stage – 7th . Romas stepped to the fifth position in general classification after stage four. In the first stage (17 km TTT) Lithuanian National team ranked 12th.
“The results could have been even better. Our team lost at least 15 seconds during the first stage as some cars entered the race track and the team was forced to brake hard“ – the head coach of the Lithuania National junior team Artūras Šiugždinis commented.
The fifth stage victory vent to the British cyclist Stephen Dent. He completed the 125 km distance in 2: 57.09 (avg. speed – 42.34 km/h). More than 100 cyclists were classified with the same race time. All Lithuanians finished in the main group. R. Zubrickas ranked highest. He was classified 31st.
“I could have finish much better. As only one kilometer was left till the finish, one of the rivals slipped right before my nose, therefore I was forced to jump onto the sidewalk in order to avoid a hard crash. The good sprinting position was lost“ – told R. Zubrickas.
Rider form Klaipeda was glad to achieve high result at the stage race having UCI category. “We were participating the stage race in Poland two month ago. I thought that the stage race in Belgium will be somewhat similar, because both races are of the same UCI category. However, yet after the second stage I have realised that road races in Belgium are much challenging. I did my best to give away all the energy, therefore the results turned out being satisfying. I also realise that I could not perform any better. I am grateful to all of my teammates who took part in the races and helped me to achieve high result” – R. Zubrickas commented.
In 2005 German Marcel Kittel, currently one of the best sprinters in the world, finished the same stage race with the silver medal. In 2006, the entire podium was occupied by Lithuanians: Marius Kukta – Gold, Evaldas Šiškevičius – Silver, Gediminas Kaupas – Bronze.
Two month ago D. Masiulis was third and R. Zubrickas 19th, in a junior stage race in Poland.