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“This Vuelta I learnt that a top ten place isn’t an unrealistic ambition. I have to keep that in mind for the future. A stage race of three weeks isn’t a disadvantage for me."

Photo: Lotto Soudal

ADAM HANSEN

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BART DE CLERCQ

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KRIS BOECKMANS

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LOTTO-DSTNY

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MAXIME MONFORT

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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14.09.2015 @ 00:04 Posted by Andy Pedersen

The third Grand Tour of the season has come to an end. The Vuelta a España was won by Fabio Aru, ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez and Rafal Majka. Bart De Clercq finished fourteenth on GC. Unfortunately Lotto Soudal returns home without a victory, but with nice results of Monfort, Hansen and Van der Sande. Bart De Clercq and sports director Mario Aerts make a review of the previous weeks.

 

“Before the Vuelta I had the ambition to go for top ten. In the end I am fourteenth, a result I can live with. It feels like more was possible though. I crashed in stage eight, and had to recover a few days from it. In the stage to Andorra I lost some minutes because of that, and without the help of Jelle Vanendert and Maxime Monfort that could have even been more time. That day was the hardest of the entire Vuelta, also because it was the toughest stage of all,” Bart De Clercq told.

 

“In the last week I proved that my shape has stayed intact, that I got close to top ten and that I wasn’t less good than guys like Pozzovivo or Meintjes. In the time trial I even took back some minutes. Yesterday, I gained forty seconds on the group Dumoulin/Valverde, and that made I could stay on the fourteenth place and didn’t become seventeenth. The twelfth place was possible.

 

"The big breakaways played a role. The day I was in one, MTN and Astana really chased hard to get us back. Other days, like yesterday, that didn’t happen, so other guys could take back time on me. You always think about joining a break to aim for a stage win. Winning a stage would be a dream come true, and sometimes you can gain sufficient time to get a good overall result at the end. That can happen in smaller stage races and Grand Tours.

 

“This Vuelta I learnt that a top ten place isn’t an unrealistic ambition. I have to keep that in mind for the future. A stage race of three weeks isn’t a disadvantage for me. The condition stayed quite consistent and I could recover enough during the three weeks. It’s hard to say where that can get me in the future. Of course there are limits. In 2013, I already was on this path, but last year I didn’t have a good season. This season I picked up where I left in 2013 and I want to continue that way in 2016, in the Lotto Soudal team. My contract has been extended with two years and in the future I will of course keep focusing on Grand Tours and one-week stage races.”

 

“It’s always a goal to win a stage, but we didn’t reach it this time," Aerts said. "The last days we tried hard, after we had raced too defensively in the first part. We weren’t represented in too many breakaways that survived to the finish, while we did have the riders for it. We didn’t race aggressively enough, a bit too scared to hurt ourselves. But of course you have to be able to move along as well.

 

“We can be satisfied with the performance of Bart De Clercq as GC rider. He could stay with the favourites for a long time, with a bit of luck he could have gotten twelfth on GC and when the selection was made in the mountain stages he could stay with the best for a long time. The first ten days the finishes were pretty explosive and that really isn’t his cup of tea. He has raced more assertively than in the past, that’s a positive evolution which he wants to continue in the future.

 

"Maxime Monfort could pretty easily change his strategy when it was obvious that a top ten place wouldn’t be an option. He did a great job supporting Bart De Clercq and the team and joined a breakaway a few times, which is new to him. That got him the third place on Friday.

 

“Tosh Van der Sande rode a fantastic Vuelta. He showed himself, in bunch sprints and breakaways. In some stages a better result than third, fourth, fifth, sixth or ninth was even possible. We can also make a positive evaluation of the Grand Tour début of Jasper De Buyst. He’s not exhausted and will have become stronger. Adam Hansen tried to be in a break often, had marked certain stages, but didn’t have much luck with the composition of the groups or the race situation.

 

“The crash and medical situation of Kris Boeckmans was of course very emotional. Each day we waited to hear how his situation would evolve, the first days we were really scared because the injuries were so severe. Something like that has a big influence on the atmosphere in the team. For someone like Thomas De Gendt, who was there when it happened and is close to Kris, it was hard to focus on the race. Apart from that Thomas hadn’t recovered enough from the Tour. He was empty, both physically and mentally.”

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