• 2012/04/23 Alex Candelario Wins Stage 2 of Tour de Korea, Claims Yellow Jersey
    • Alex Candelario Wins Stage 2 of Tour de Korea, Claims Yellow Jersey Alex Candelario Wins Stage 2 of Tour de Korea, Claims Yellow Jersey

      Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Alex Candelario won Stage 2 of the Tour de Korea (UCI 2.2) yesterday, taking the yellow leader’s jersey off the shoulders of Mauro Richeze (Team Nippo) in the process. Shrewd tactics led Candelario to victory as he accelerated to victory from a three-man breakaway with a well-timed counter-attack over the closing meters. Performance Director Jonas Carney was happy to watch his team captain and former teammate don UCI yellow for the first time in his long and successful career.

      “This is a great win for Candelario and the team – his toughness and determination today were phenomenal. I have watched his skill set diversify and progress significantly over the past couple seasons, truly becoming something other than the field sprinter I think we all knew. It has to be one of the biggest wins of his career, and it gives the team a great target to shoot for as the race continues. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring home yellow.”

      Candelario countered an aggressive move by Irish star Dave McCann (RTS Racing), who attempted to sneak away from him and Chanjae Jang (Terengganu Cycling Team) around the race’s final turn and avoid a three-up sprint in the process. The trio had escaped earlier from a 20-man move, working together to build a 40 second gap on the remnants of the breakaway and the rest of the field. The three would prove uncatchable, and prepared for a standoff over the closing meters.

      “McCann is a great rider, and was really going for it inside the final kilometer,” said Candelario. “He was pulling hard trying to ditch me, as I’m more of a sprinter, and I don’t think he wanted to see it decided at the line. He made it hard to get back onto his wheel, but I was able to come around him with 200 meters to go. From there I pushed it as hard I could and didn’t look back.”

      Neither McCann nor Jang could follow the move, and Candelario was once again able to demonstrate his ability to follow long, hard days of riding with the sizable punch needed to close out the win. The stage, a rolling trip from Buyeo to Gwangju, was the longest of the Tour de Korea, measuring 197.7 kilometers.

      The Optum p/b KBS team is no stranger to the unique brand of racing providing in the Eastern hemisphere, competing in Asian racing campaigns over each of the three previous seasons. Candelario has always valued the unique challenge and tough racing as the team prepares for their goals later in the season.

      “Our team has always considered it an honor and a great test of fitness to race over here, and its great leading up to our big goals back in the U.S. this summer. We take the Tour de Korea very seriously,” he said. “Asian races are always aggressive. All day long people are hitting each other, attacks are flying, moves are going; it’s great. Plus I love Korean culture. Everyone treats us well, the food is great, and the stages provide a great glimpse of the beauty of South Korea. We are extremely motivated to keep the pressure on as the week rolls on.”

      The victory gives Candelario a four second lead over McCann on the general classification, with 6 stages of racing remaining. The battle promised to be heated – McCann won the race in 2005 and is a multi-time national champion in his native Ireland. Many international events such as the UCI 2.2 ranked Tour de Korea are limited to six riders. With these smaller teams comes a higher level of unpredictability, making an all-out defense of yellow tough. Carney plans to play a variety of cards in the team’s big to defend.

      “We can’t ride the front all week with just six guys, or at least it would be extremely challenging, especially with how aggressively teams like to ride here. We want to mix it up as much as we can this week, and we will look at things on a stage by stage basis, and try to pick out places where we can really capitalize on opportunities to gain more time for Candelario. It is great that we have a lot of climbers and all-arounders on the roster here. Jesse Anthony and Mike Friedman are both going great, and both know this race extremely well, so we’ll see what happens.”