RACE: ŠKODA Tour de Luxembourg stage one, Luxembourg > Luxembourg
DATE: Wednesday 20 September

For 156 kilometres, IPT’s plan for the opening stage of the SKODA Tour de Luxembourg had played out near-perfectly.

Krists Neilands helped ensure that the day’s three-man breakaway group did not gain an insurmountable lead over the peloton, before he positioned his team-mates perfectly for the start of the Cote de Stafelter climb. Michael Woods then neutralised an acceleration on the Stafelter, which all but ensured a reduced bunch sprint for victory, before Hugo Houle helped reposition his teammates approaching the line.

The only thing left to tick off was a perfect closing 400 metres. Step forward, Corbin Strong.

A little over a year on from his last pro victory at the Tour of Britain, the Kiwi delivered a calm, composed, and – most impressively – lengthy sprint to take the win. Strong sat second wheel, behind Uno-X Pro Cycling’s Anthon Charmig, heading into the final corner. Even after the Danish rider rose out of the saddle some 250 metres from the line, Strong held back a couple of seconds longer, before starting his sprint around the same time as Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) did to his left.

Having hit the front with 150 metres remaining, the IPT rider was mightily impressive, showing no sign of weakness even as others behind surged for the line. The strategy devised for the stage during a recon a day earlier had played out perfectly. “I was really happy with the stage win,” Strong said. “We came here with a really strong team, and we rode exceptionally on stage one. The guys did a perfect job all day and I was able to finish it off.”

IPT celebrate Corbin Strong's victory in Luxembourg

This victory was part of Strong’s late-season flourish, which began at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec on 8 September, where he placed second. The Kiwi then took third at the Circuit Franco-Belge a little over a week after his Luxembourg triumph, before finishing fourth at the Giro del Veneto on his penultimate road racing day of the season.