Two third-placed finishes within one hour: IPT delivered its best results to date at this week’s Tirreno – Adriatico and Paris – Nice in a 45-minute period on Thursday, as Corbin Strong’s result in Giulianova was matched across the French border by Pascal Ackermann in Sisteron.

Having already posted top threes in a Tour Down Under stage and the Surf Coast Classic this season, this was arguably Strong’s most impressive performance of 2024 given his result came in an uphill sprint against a stacked field on the day the race arrived at the Adriatic coast.

The battle between the sprinters wasn’t the only one on the cards with the peloton put to work to catch the breakaway, which didn’t happen until the final kilometer in what was a thrilling finish.

Having crossed the finish line once before tackling a lap of the finishing circuit, the riders had a chance to see the steep and technical finish straight, something that the Kiwi rider said proved crucial.

“I’m really happy with the result, especially after the crash yesterday and the disappointment of coming down so close to the finish,” explained Strong. “So it’s nice to bounce back and have a result to show for it today. I really like to see the finish before the sprint so I really took it in the first lap and realized there was quite a bit of time from the last corner to the finish.

“So, like yesterday, you could be pretty patient for the final sprint. I think I timed it well. I opened my sprint first but unfortunately, [Jonathan] Milan and [Jasper] Philipsen were just a bit better today. But we can be happy with today and look forward to the next stages.”

Corbin Strong, Tirreno - Adriatico 2024, stage 4

Over in France, Ackermann also capitalized on an all-round team performance to record his best result since joining the team at the start of the season.

The IPT sprint train mobilized five kilometers from the finish line, with Guillaume Boivin, Hugo Hofstetter, Hugo Houle, Jakob Fuglsang, and Rick Zabel all playing a part in assisting Ackermann. Boivin, in particular, produced a two-kilometer turn that prevented any opportunistic attacks.

Ackermann smartly positioned himself in the wheel on Mads Pedersen (LTK), however stage winner Olav Kooij (TVL) took full advantage of the slipstream to pass both of them in the final 50 meters.

“I was here to win a stage and today was the first day I could sprint,” says Ackermann, who was cheered on by his team-mates in Italy, who watched on from the team bus.

“I was really happy with the performance of the team, they did a great job all day. I think we have to find out how we fit together and today was a really good example of that – especially in the last three kilometers, where we made it really hard.

“The shape we have on the climbs is really good, so I think there’s more coming in the next weeks.

“In the end, it was really close for the victory. My legs were a bit empty in the end but that’s normal after a super hard stage like today. I’m really happy to come close again to the victory.”

As the race heads south towards Nice, today’s stage was likely the sprinters’ last chance for glory in this year’s Race to the Sun. However, having added to IPT’s solid week in Italy after Ethan Vernon finished fourth in the opening time trial before sprinting to a top 10 on stage 2, Sunday’s final stage at Tirreno represents another opportunity for the team’s fast finishers.