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"My condition is not bad.  And I think that with the last stage on Sunday and the Belgian Championships, I will be right on track for my next goal which is the Tour of Austria.”

Photo: IAM Cycling




20.06.2015 @ 21:49 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The Ster ZLM Toer made a stop in Belgium on Saturday.  And even in a reputedly flat country, there is a richness of difficulties to explore. Before finishing in La Gileppe, the peloton passed through the Ardennes where the riders were faced with the Côte de la Redoute, and certainly had flashbacks to Liège-Bastogne-Liège. 


But even on a course as difficult as Saturday’s stage, which had snippets of cycling’s oldest monument thrown into the route, it was still a sprinter Moreno Hofland (Lotto-Jumbo) who judged his sprinter perfectly, though it was on a false flat. 


For IAM Cycling, they had a pleasant amount of visibility throughout the stage, even though they ended up missing out on the stage win.  Thomas Degand, who is racing over his home roads, spent the day fighting in the breakaway in an attempt to stay away until the finish.  Though caught with 18 kilometers left in the stage, Degand had no regrets after fighting a long battle with a lot of panache.


When discussing his day, local boy Degand was full of confidence after having spent a productive day at the pointy end of the race. 


“The first days here were not easy for me because I was lacking a bit of rhythm and competition in my legs.   But Saturday I managed to make the breakaway and I am very happy.  I had the heart to do well, though I struggled all day.  We started out as six riders, and then by the time the peloton had us in their sights we were three, until finally I struck out on my own, only to be caught with 18 kilometers to go.  The teams were working very hard behind to ensure that this would be a bunch sprint.  


"But I have no regrets since it is a very rare thing to have the break stay away until the finish, but you always have to try.  I had fun today and I tried hard.  My condition is not bad.  And I think that with the last stage on Sunday and the Belgian Championships, I will be right on track for my next goal which is the Tour of Austria.”


Degand’s confidence and optimism is shared by his directeur, Rubens Bertogliati, who was very impressed with his rider’s efforts today. 


“Thomas was really tough in today’s stage.  He was by far the strongest of the riders in the break.  If you ask me, that breakaway could have stayed away if all the other riders had been as strong as Thomas.  But that’s normal.  It was a tough day, almost a mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège. 


"The team wanted to place a man in the break, and also protect Marcel Aregger.  In the end, we managed to succeed on all fronts.  Marcel did lose a little bit of time, but nothing very serious; it does not change much. 


"Now we will focus on the last stage, which should be another for the sprinters.  IAM Cycling has several guys who are capable of getting a good result tomorrow, so I am excited to see what we can do.”



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