Victory for Neilands, Runner-up For Geoghegan Hart Cap Busy Weekend Away From Axeon

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By Sean Weide
05 Jun 16

Latvian Under 23 national road champion Krists Neilands, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Irish Under 23 national road champion Eddie Dunbar each figured prominently in races Sunday away from the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team.

Neilands Solos To Win In Latvia

Racing in his home country, Neilands attacked with two kilometers to go at the Jūrmalas Velomaratons and soloed to win for the first time this season.

The 87-kilometer race started and finished near the Dzintari concert hall in the city of Jurmala. On the first of six laps of 14.5 kilometers, Neilands and five others broke away. Neilands was the last of the escapees to be caught – on the final lap. But minutes later, he launched his own race-winning attack.

"This feels good because all victories are awesome," Neilands said.

Neilands will next be in action later this month when he goes after defense of his national title. The national time trial is June 22, followed by the road race on June 26.

Geoghegan Hart Runner-Up At Nations Cup Race

After moving into second overall Saturday on the strength of a runner-up finish, Geoghegan Hart placed fifth on Sunday's final stage of Course de la Paix U23/Závod Míru U23 to secure a runner-up result in the UCI Nations' Cup U23 event.

Racing for the British national team, Geoghegan Hart finished 11 seconds back of overall winner David Gaudu (French national team) who also narrowly edged him out for the points classification title on tie-breaker criteria.

"I think my legs are getting better and better at the moment," Geoghegan Hart said. "I have had a pretty heavy race schedule with a lot of time on the road. But I seem to be holding it together and keeping consistent. Unfortunately, I was pretty tired at Paris-Roubaix, but I came around for this, thankfully. Sunday's finish was more of a sprint than a summit finish as such, with a short climb, and most of the action came in the last few hundred meters."

Winner of the one-day classic Trofeo Piva in Italy earlier this year and "best young rider" at the Tour of the Gila, Geoghegan Hart said his fourth top-three finish on the year was as much a learning experience as anything.

"I had a few regrets after the way the summit finish on Stage 2 played out," he said. "But it was a good experience. More importantly, I know what I would do differently next time in the same scenario."

Next up for him is a race in France, Tour des Pays de Savoie, with the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team.

"It is a race I am really looking forward too," Geoghegan Hart said. "But first, a week at home – which will equally be really great."

Dunbar Figures At Philadelphia

Competing as part of the Irish national team, Dunbar notched a 17th-place finish at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.

His performance came a week after winning the penultimate stage of the An Post Rás, which was his first competition after breaking his collarbone in April. In Sunday's race, he made the lead group after monitoring action in the peloton while one of his teammates was in the day's breakaway.

"I did not know how my body was going to react to racing after six weeks off," Dunbar said. "My last race before breaking my collarbone was Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23 on April 16 (won by Axeon Hagens Berman teammate Logan Owen). I just kind of built-up slowly as I came back to training. Every day, I built up a little bit more. I went into An Post Rás very fresh and every day I felt a lot of stronger. My only disappointment was on Stage 4. I lost 15 seconds with a mechanical problem, so that was a bit annoying. With that mishap, I would have been right up there overall. But to win a stage, in my home race, in my first race back, was very satisfying."

Dunbar will also be part of Axeon Hagens Berman's line-up for Tour des Pays de Savoie, June 16-19.

(Courtesy photo of Krists Neilands winning Jūrmalas Velomaratons.)

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