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"I was being careful because I was up there with two guys, Westra and Ligthart, who knew each other very well since they were teammates at Vacansoleil," Bakelants says

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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JAN BAKELANTS

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SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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13.06.2014 @ 18:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Third time's a charm for Jan Bakelants who came away with the win in today's stage 6 of the Criterium du Dauphiné after having made the right break for the third day in a row. Beinb up against two former teammates, the Belgian feared that Lieuwe Westra and Pim Ligthart would cooperate and was especially afraid of the latter who has a very fast sprint.

 

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Jan Bakelants didn't give up. He entered the breakaway of the day for the third straight stage — this time, a 16-rider escape group including teammate Zdenek Stybar at 168km Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 6 on Friday.

The third time was a charm for Bakelants, who bridged to an attack of Lieuwe Westra (Astana) and Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol) with about 20km to go in the stage and the gap still several minutes over the peloton. The gap to the chasers behind, including Stybar, grew to about 38" with 9km to go. 

"This morning I felt really good," Bakelants said. "But after two days in a breakaway I wasn't obliged to get into the action again. But then during the stage I asked myself 'Why not' and I jumped. I had nothing to lose and I knew that it was the last chance for a breakaway before the last two difficult stages.

 

"I jumped and Westra bridged to me. We went with a good group of riders and it was immediately clear that it could have been the breakaway of the day. In the breakaway we cooperated very well. Also Styby was there, which was perfect for our team. 

 

"There were fast riders in the break, so the plan was that I had to counter the attacks and Styby could sit in the back waiting for the final sprint. In one of attacks Ligthart and Westra went at about 20 kilometers to go. I bridged to them and we went. I was scared about Ligthart because I knew he is a fast guy and he could count on his sprint. But Westra attacked again and we dropped him."

Westra attacked, with Bakelants following, at 8.4km to go. The two then were able to stay away until the line. Westra tried attacking several times, including on a steep gradient of about 15% with 2km to go in the stage. Bakelants stayed with every move. Westra tried launching first on the downhill in the approach to the finish line, but Bakelants took an inside line in the final turn and outsprinted Westra for the victory.

"In the final meters we launched the sprint and I passed on the right side between him and the fences," Bakelants said. "I had good speed and I was able to pass him. When I crossed the line I was really over the moon.  

 

“In the sprint, I really thought that Westra was going to close the door on me. It wasn't fair. I was already on my way to passing him but he eventually let me go through so I thank him for his fair-play.

 

"In this case scenario, disillusion and intense joy are very close. With winning a stage at the Dauphiné, my season is already partly a success. In the past two days, I was already in the decisive breakaway, but I've always found on my way a Katusha rider who was stronger than me.

 

"I managed to jump into the breakaway without producing a too big effort and I rode all day with a smooth pedaling style, so when Westra attacked, I had the legs.

 

"I was being careful because I was up there with two guys, Westra and Ligthart, who knew each other very well since they were teammates at Vacansoleil. It was very tight at the end. I've proved once again that I'm a rider for the medium mountain stages.

 

"I have to say that my legs today were really good. Every day here at Dauphine I’m improving. It’s a good sign the condition is definitely there! 

 

"It’s my first victory after GP Wallonie in 2013. This year I was already close to victory. It’s like that in cycling, though. To win you have to try over and over again, and sooner or later the victory will arrive.

 

"I think I did well for the first part of the season. I helped my teammates with great pleasure in several races and I played my cards when I had the occasion. That’s perfect for me! This victory in any case gives another dimension to my season so far. I’m very happy and I’m looking forward to the next appointments.”

Stybar also crossed the line first in the chase group behind, earning OPQS a 1st and 3rd podium for the stage.

The win of Bakelants is the 37th for OPQS, in three disciplines, in 2014.

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