Arvid de Kleijn wins stage 2 of Paris-Nice.

Cancellara’s Tudor team bosses the bigs to its first WorldTour win

Arvid de Kleijn finished off a solid leadout to best some heavy hitters at Paris-Nice.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 04.03.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Tudor Pro Cycling is one of three second-division teams racing at Paris-Nice this week, a lower-profile squad amid a peloton of heavy hitters – but you wouldn’t have known it from the way the team showed up in the finale of Monday’s stage 2.

After some great lead-out work from his teammates, Arvid de Kleijn capped off the day with a sprint win, marking the first ever WorldTour victory for a team owned by Swiss cycling legend Fabian Cancellara.

Tudor’s win was a masterclass in taking the sprint bull by the horns even as one of the smaller teams in a race. With quite a few WorldTour sprint talents in the Paris-Nice peloton, it stood to reason that Tudor might let the likes of Lidl-Trek, with Mads Pedersen, and Visma-Lease a Bike, with stage 1 winner Olav Kooij, take full control in the run-in to the finale. Tudor, however, had other plans, making sure to make their presence felt.

With the win, Tudor is helping continue the 2024 trend of second-division ProTeams taking wins at the sport’s highest level. In two of the three stage races so far, riders from ProTeams have taken both a stage and the overall: Israel-Premier Tech’s Stephen Williams at the Tour Down Under, and Lotto Dstny’s Lennert Van Eetvelt at the UAE Tour.

But both of those teams are former WorldTour outfits. Tudor stands out as a young outfit, just starting its second year as a ProTeam and sixth season overall. It wasn’t until its fourth year as a ProTeam before Uno-X Mobility notched its first WorldTour win, for comparison. Another, Bingoal, is still searching for their first after six years. Even longstanding teams can find WorldTour success fleeting; VF Group-Bardiani has been around in some form or other for 40 years, but counts just two WorldTour wins in its last 10 seasons.

Tudor obviously isn’t waiting around, even in a Paris-Nice field deep with top sprinters. With around 2 km to go in a flat stage that seemed destined to conclude in a sprint, Tudor came to the front in force, with veteran Matteo Trentin setting a torrid pace.

“He knew exactly what to do,” De Kleijn said of Trentin after the stage. “He said we had to stay calm until the end and then he did an amazing pull.”

That alone would not have sealed the deal if Tudor’s lead-out train had sputtered before the actual finishing straight, but the second-division team maintained a strong position all the way through to the sprint even while letting Visma-Lease a Bike and Lidl-Trek take over at the very front. As the pack sped towards the finish line in Montargis, Tudor’s Maikel Zijlaard remained close to the head of the race with De Kleijn just behind.

In the last few hundred meters, the 24-year-old Zijlaard was still in front of De Kleijn when Bora-Hansgrohe’s Danny van Poppel decided to forge his own path on the right side of the road. De Kleijn was fresh and, after communicating his intentions with Zijlaard, ready to react.

“I was in the last 200 [meters] and I was a little bit boxed in by my own teammate,” he said. “I screamed to the left so he opened up and I could go to the wheel of Van Poppel, so I could come with speed and kept it to the line.”

De Kleijn overtook Van Poppel and then held off Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) and Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) to take a clear win, his and also his team’s first-ever at the WorldTour level. Pithie at least earned a consolation prize: the 21-year-old Kiwi leads the race heading into Tuesday’s stage 3.

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