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"That flat tyre is a shame because my legs felt good again. This was another stage that suited me, I really expected to compete for the win here. I also hoped to retain my jersey," Renshaw says

Photo: Sirotti












13.08.2013 @ 23:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Belkin had one of their best ever days yesterday when Mark Renshaw won the first stage of the Eneco Tour and Luis-Leon Sanchez the third stage of the Tour de l'Ain while Renshaw and Tom-Jelte Slagter took the leader's yesterday in Belgium and France respectively. Today the fortunes turned completely around as both slipped out of their respective tunics.


It has been a week of mixed emotions for the Belkin team so far. Yesterday Mark Renshaw, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Luis-Leon Sanchez put the team on a high but today a combination of bad luck and bad legs left the team with a bitter taste in their mouth.


Having originally stated that he would ride for Theo Bos in today's uphill sprint, Mark Renshaw had changed his mind and taken to the start line on the second stage of the Eneco Tour with the clear intention of both fighting for the stage win and defend his overall lead. An untimely puncture left him with no chance to battle it out with stage winner Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and while he awarded the same time as the peloton, a split in the main group on the uphill finish saw him lose 5 seconds to Demare, thus being relegated to 2nd on GC.


Afterwards, the Australian was left wondering what might have been.


"That flat tyre is a shame because my legs felt good again," he said. "This was another stage that suited me, I really expected to compete for the win here. I also hoped to retain my jersey.”


The stage was not a complete disaster as defending champion Lars Boom was aware and stayed ahead of the split, thus gaining 5 seconds on most of his rivals for the overall win. However, Boom had hoped for more and had actually expected the climb to be a bit harder.


"I was able to follow but couldn’t really sprint," he said. "I expected to finish with a smaller group but the arrival was not selective enough.”


With two sprint stages in the team's Dutch home country coming up, the squad will turn its attention to main sprinter Theo Bos while Boom will try to avoid any troubles ahead of the three decisive stages of the weekend.


"I’m feeling strong," he said. "I should be, because this is a WorldTour race and everyone here is strong."


In the Tour de l'Ain, the team had headed into the queen stage with high ambitions due to Slagter and Sanchez being placed in the first two positions on GC. However, Slagter lost contact with the main favourites over the mighty Col du Grand Colombier while Sanchez did his best to reel in Romain Barder (Ag2r) and Wout Poels (Vacansoleil), ultimately coming out unsuccessful.


The time gains for Bardet was enough for him to move ahead of Sanchez who stayed in second overall while Slagter dropped to 9th and missed out of his chance to second stage race of the season after his breakthrough victory in January's Tour Down Under.


“I’m disappointed..." Slagter explained. "I started full of ambition this morning and as a team we controlled the race for a long time. The boys worked hard but on the Colombier, it was every man for himself."


Looking at the results of the stage race, sports director Erik Dekker was convinced that his team had had a successful race but being so close to the overall win, he couldn't escape a feeling of disappointment.


"The grapes are sour if you start the day as number one and two but end up second and ninth," he said. "If you’re in yellow, you have something to lose... but that's cycling. The guys, however, did what they could and I think we had a good Tour de l'Ain.”


Sanchez will now focus on the Vuelta a Espana while Slagter has set his sights on some of the hillier one-day races.



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