Fifth place in the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro was Dion Smith’s twelfth top five finish of the season. At just 23 years of age it’s clear that we haven’t seen a talent like him from our shores for quite some time. After another quality result Dion credited the great effort by the entire team in taking him to another fine result.
It actually wasn’t supposed to be this way. The ambition for ONE Pro Cycling was to work for their Australian fast man in the finale but with the poor conditions on the day there was always the potential for things to go wrong and sadly misfortune struck. “The main plan was to go for Steele [von Hoff] but unfortunately he got taken out with only 8km to go on some cobbles, so then I had to think about the sprint,” Dion Smith said on the team website.
For Smith himself it was a case of the unknown as he entered the race, his first since 18th September in the Grand Prix d’Isbergues. “I felt good today. I didn’t know how the body or legs would feel after the last block of racing but I’ve freshened up nicely,” Smith said.
There were a number of big teams on hand today and as we caught up with Dion afterwards, a combination of their pace and the deteriorating weather conditions made for a very difficult race. “I think the mixture of the big teams putting the pressure on and at crucial times like the cobbled section we did 3 times on the finishing circuits, plus the rain made it even more of a battle!” Dion said.
As the kilometres ticked away the field whittled down quite significantly and that seemed to play into the hands of Smith. “The run into the finish was a small bunch which suits me better, I had to follow the teams with two or more riders and use their lead out men,” Smith said. That strategy meant following the big muscle sprint teams of GIANT-Alpecin and Etixx-Quick Step. This he managed to do and then he lined up for the sprint finish.
While John Degenkolb was strongest it was Smith who claimed fifth place, beating the likes of Andre Greipel, Gianni Meersman and Marcel Kittel. “With 1km to go I was in an ok position but had to open up earlier than I would have liked in order to move up before sprinting for the line. It was a great effort by the entire team and even with the carnage it worked out well in the end.”
Dion Smith will join teammates Patrick Bevin and Jack Bauer at the UCI World Road Championships in Doha with the road race taking place on the 16th October.