Tournai, Belgium - After his 2nd place finish in Stage two’s time trial, Mikkel Bjerg held the yellow race leader’s jersey through Sunday’s final stage to win the general classification title at Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux. Additionally, the Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team captured its first team win of the season after three days of racing in the Wallonia region of Belgium.
Bjerg’s first ever UCI GC win was all but sealed after the time trial specialist showed strong early season form and received supportive rides by his teammates.
“Winning Triptyque was one of my goals this year,” said an ecstatic Bjerg. “I was really disappointed to miss out on the time trial [win] especially since I was racing in my World Championships stripes, but going into the last two stages knowing that Ian and I were 1 and 2 in the GC gave the team a lot of confidence!”
The two-time U23 Time Trial World Champion’s victory follows in the footsteps of former teammate and 2018 winner, Jasper Philipsen who signed with World Tour team UAE Team Emirates at the end of last season.
“The TT was a big decider for this 3-day stage race,” said sport director Koos Moerenhout. “The team was attentive the first day, strong the second, and in control the last day. But since the time gaps were not big, there was some suspense until it was all over. Two riders were within winning distance because of the time bonuses.”
But the 20-year-old Dane and teammates held on for victory.
“On the last stage, the team rode a perfect race for me,” said Bjerg. “I really can’t thank them enough.”
Where last year Axeon alumnus Will Barta was integral in Philipsen’s victory, so too were teammates in Bjerg’s. Ian Garrison earned two podium places in the first two stages and finished in 2nd place behind Bjerg in the GC. Maikel Zijlaard placed 2nd on the 3rd stage and 4th on the final day, solidifying the youngster’s 12th place in the GC
“Ian and Mikkel were well supported by their teammates,” said Moerenhout. “Jonny and Cole did a lot of work to stay in control today. Maikel showed fast legs on multiple stages while Sean had a very good European start.”
(Header image by Jim Anderson)