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“I was excited and had a lot of moral, but I just wasn’t strong enough for the climbs and made too many mistakes on the downhill. Also, the intensive stages in the last days took their toll. I had to dig deep multiple times this...

Photo: Belkin Pro Cycling Team










12.04.2014 @ 18:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Stef Clement was one of the outsiders for a podium spot in today's time trial at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco but the strong Dutchman could only manage 19th. The result came at the end of what has generally been a disappointing race for the Dutch team that had great ambitions with Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink.


Stef Clement gave all he had left after a hard week of racing in today’s closing time trial of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and placed 19th. The Dutchman of the Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM needed 40-29 minutes to complete the 25-kilometre course, which included two third category climbs. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won with 38-33. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) took the overall victory. 

“We prepared ourselves as always,” said Clement. “During yesterday’s stage we already crossed the parcours, but this morning we checked it one more time with the time trial bike. 

“I was excited and had a lot of moral, but I just wasn’t strong enough for the climbs and made too many mistakes on the downhill. Also, the intensive stages in the last days took their toll. I had to dig deep multiple times this week.” 


Despite the fact that he hoped to end up in the top ten, Clement was able to live with the outcome.


“Almost all the riders who finished in front of me are strong climbers. Still, this is a bit of a meaningless result. Along the way, I felt things weren’t going my way, but because I kept going, I tested myself and it was a good learning experience.” 


Sports Director Merijn Zeeman looked back on the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco after the time trial.


“We are disappointed as we weren’t able get in the mix in the overall,” said Zeeman. 


“Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema were our leaders but both weren’t able do it. Unfortunately, Robert had to give up because of physical discomfort, while Bauke had bad first day. In retrospective, that’s very very unfortunate to see, because in the following days, Bauke did great things.” 


Zeeman referred to yesterday’s fifth stage,when Mollema was part of a breakaway and was caught with only ten kilometres to go.


“Bauke was one of the strongest men in the race yesterday. Looking ahead to the upcoming games, that’s a positive sign. Jonathan Hivert, Paul Martens and Lars Petter Nordhaug seem to be OK as well, so we can – to end with a positive note – head into next week with some confidence.” 



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