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"It rained: I like that mostly, but today I was not so happy with it because my goal was to ride a really good race in Il Lombardia on Sunday, and preparation is less good when it rains like this."

Photo: A.S.O.

DECATHLON AG2R LA MONDIALE

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GRAN PIEMONTE

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JAN BAKELANTS

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02.10.2015 @ 19:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) proved that he is one of the best riders in the field when it comes to launching late attacks, when he took his first win in Ag2r colours in the GranPiemonte. Accelerating from a reduced bunch just 6km from the finish on a rainy day in Italy, he managed to deny the sprinters the win by holding off a reduced peloton from which Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) beat Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) in the sprint for second.

 

In 2013, Jan Bakelants became a household name in professional cycling when he took a surprise win in stage 2 of the Tour de France. Back then, he showed panache and guts by attacking from a reduced field at a time when everything was set for a group sprint and he narrowly held off Peter Sagan by a single second to take both the stage win and the most coveted leader’s jersey in cycling.

 

Since then, Bakelants has made a name as one of the best attackers in the peloton, often riding aggressively in the finales. However, he is still not a prolific winner and after joining Ag2r at the start of the year, he has been unable to take a single victory.

 

However, it has long been evident that Bakelants is on track for a great season finale. He rode strongly in the Eneco Tour and the Canadian WorldTour races and went into the GP Wallonie as the big favourite. He was clearly the strongest in that race but was marked out by his rivals and had to settle for second.

 

Now he aims to finish the season strongly in Il Lombardia and today he got his Italian campaign off to a fantastic start when he again put his finisseur skills to use by denying the sprinters the win in the GranPiemonte classic which was back on the calendar after a two-year absence. On a rainy day in Italy, he attacked out of a reduced peloton that was prepared to sprint for the win and no one managed to catch him.

 

"I have won on a Belgian day," he said. "It rained: I like that mostly, but today I was not so happy with it because my goal was to ride a really good race in Il Lombardia on Sunday, and preparation is less good when it rains like this. But in the end I was still there, and when I was sure that I was going to finish, I decided it was better to have a good try than just stay in the bunch, just to say afterwards, "Yeah, I finished." So, when I saw the little ramp 7km from the finish line, I tried full gas. I had a nice gap on the top, and from there I was just going all out, and I was still strong enough to hold off the group. I had very good legs. 

"Actually I was only sure when I took the last corner, because it was not looking to me they were really far. I have often been in this sort of situation, and I know the peloton can really speed up on roads like this. So I was never confident, although I knew one thing: if I could take the last corner with a little bit of a lead, normally I would make it to the line. At 1km I looked back once, and I saw them actually pretty close, and I was a bit concerned, but in the end it turned out to be more than enough to celebrate also. 

"It hasn't been a bad season, although it was a bit difficult in the beginning because I had mononucleosis. I suffered a bit from this in the start of the season. Then I had some good results, I have had three second places in which I thought sometimes I could have won also. But I didn't, so there was always this regret not to have won yet this season. AG2R expect victories and some good results from me, and I am happy I can pay back their confidence and offer them this nice GranPiemonte.

 

"I was not well earlier in the season, I had mononucleosis during the winter. It is only after the Tour de France that I have felt good legs. I finished second three times this season and I am happy to finally win with the jersey of AG2R La Mondiale.

 

"On Sunday we have a nice group with Pozzovivo, Vuillermoz, Bardet and me. We can really do great things. Then I will stay in Italy to complete my season at the Coppa Sabatini, Giro Dell Emilia and GP Beghelli."


The win is the 22nd for team AG2R La Mondiale). Jan Bakelants is the 11th rider to lift the arms this season after Ben Gastauer, Sam Dumoulin, Jean - Christophe Péraud (2), Alexis Gougeard (4), Quentin Jauregui, Pierre Latour, Romain Bardet (2), Hugo Houle (2), Domenico Pozzovivo (2) and Alexis Vuillermoz (4).

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