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"I believed we had it until 2k to go. Then when Greipel crashed we thought this could be a key moment - that it could disrupt the chase behind - but not really. We had excellent collaboration between the three of us," Devolder says

Photo: Trek Factory Racing

BOY VAN POPPEL

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FABIAN CANCELLARA

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GENT-WEVELGEM

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STIJN DEVOLDER

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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31.03.2014 @ 12:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a couple of difficult seasons, Stijn Devolder is back at the level that allowed him to become a double Tour of Flanders winner. For the third race in a row, he played a key role in yesterday' Gent-Wevelgem but the race ended up being one kilometre too long.

 

Gent-Wevelgem is a Classic that favors a bunch sprint finish, even more so when the weather is dry, warm and the winds calm like today.  A five-rider breakaway forged ahead from the start, but with 233 kilometers and 16 hellingen ahead it was only a matter of time before the escapees were caught.

 

With the peloton all together and still numbering 80 riders, the key move came with 25 kilometers remaining.  Stijn Devolder joined Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) and the trio quickly pulled ahead.

 

With 10 kilometers to go it was going to be close: the Devolder group still had 36 seconds and each rider was taking equal pulls. However, behind the peloton chased furiously with numerous sprinters still in contention. Even a crash that would take out both Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) did not disrupt the frenzied chase and the three leaders were caught just outside the last kilometer banner.

 

“There was no real shifting on the hills, after the climbs everything pretty much came back together, so there was a big group with a lot of fresh guys still,” Devolder explained soon after the race had concluded. “When [Silvan] Dillier went it was intuitive of me to go too, there were no more climbs left so no more strategy for us either.

 

"It’s too bad that behind the others collaborated well. Dirk [Demol] and Luc [Meersman] from the car kept telling me, ‘believe in it, believe in it, it’s possible’.  I believed in it, and I gave it my all, but in the end we were caught with just over 1k to go.”

 

John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won the ensuing bunch sprint, jumping to victory ahead of Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Boy van Poppel was the highest placed for the team finishing in 19th place. A small crash in the last 500 meters had Fabian Cancellara braking hard and expertly maneuvering around the melee, and he would place 38th (+19”) as a result.

 

“Three races in a row with great riding from the team and no big result,” said director Dirk Demol of the close finish today.  “Waregem, and then Harelbeke, we just missed out and with better luck things could have been different. And today we knew it was the most difficult race for us because it is more likely a sprint.

 

"We have a young sprinter with Danny [van Poppel], but he is not ready to do a sprint on this level.  Danny was not there at the end anymore, and it was still a very big group, and so we decided to go on the attack, and that is what Stijn did.

 

“We are a little disappointed, but it’s more than clear that we are ready for Flanders next Sunday. Fabian, of course, is ready but I am really happy to see the performance of Stijn, who is back to his best level in years.”

 

Stijn Devolder echoed the words of Demol:

 

“My form is good, and I already showed that in Harelbeke when I had to bridge to front group after the crash,” continued Devolder. “Today I tried and just missed it; maybe with a little more luck it would have worked.

 

"I believed we had it until 2k to go. Then when Greipel crashed we thought this could be a key moment - that it could disrupt the chase behind – but not really. We had excellent collaboration between the three of us. 

 

"Now I am going to ride some more kilometers - my dad is waiting with the derny.”

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