In his first stage race as a member of the Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling team, rookie sensation Antonio Morgado earned his first professional victory at the International Tour of Rhodes in Greece.
“The victory was very unexpected,” said Antonio. “I knew I was in reasonable shape, but I thought I had no condition to win. I felt bad the first two days [of the race] and on the last one I felt good. I wanted to place high in the general classification, but after the time trial was canceled because of bad weather, I never expected to be in front. The intermediate sprint on the final stage was very important and the team helped to put me into position, then it was just sprinting. In the last ten kilometers or so, I thought that if the group arrived all together, we had a good chance of making a good place and luckily that's what happened.”
“It was great riding from the whole team this week,” said owner and director Axel Merckx. “We have a strong, tight group of riders, besides the fact that Antonio won today and only won by two seconds. It's a testament from that generation that we have on the team. They're all individually really strong, but they're also really tight as a team. Not only was Antonio in the front, but we had about three riders not far behind and that's very promising for the rest of the year.”
“Now, it's only the beginning of the season and we know there's a long way to go, but it's a great start, probably one of the best starts we've had in a long time. I can only be thankful for the sponsors that have been believing in us and investing in this program. Hopefully we can keep doing this and keep making them proud because I am for sure proud of the boys and the staff; everyone has been working so hard to get us here. Thanks to everyone and I'm looking forward to what's next.”
Teammates Maxence Place, Gonçalo Tavares, and Artem Shmidt finished in 20th, 21st, and 23rd places respectively.
The Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team’s next race is Gent–Wevelgem on March 26, followed by the Volta Limburg Classic on April 1.