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“As a team we did a really good job in the final kilometres, staying upright and avoiding the crashes and after the big one everything was looking good for us. We then hit the bumpy road into the final corner where I lost my chain - g...

Photo: © Cor Vos / Team Giant-Shimano

GIRO D'ITALIA

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LUKA MEZGEC

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM VEELERS

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13.05.2014 @ 19:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Despite the loss of Marcel Kittel, Team Giant-Shimano was in a great position to continue its winning streak at the Giro d'Italia when four of its riders were among the six that survived the big crash in the end. However, designated sprinter Luka Mezgec dropped his chain in the final turn and so it was left to lead-out man Tom Veelers to do a very long sprint.

 

At the end of a bizarre fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia where the majority of the stage was neutralised and then much of the peloton hit the deck on the final lap, Tom Veelers has finished in third place for Team Giant-Shimano.

 

Veelers was part of the lead-out for Luka Mezgec on the final lap as the rain started to fall once again, and as riders hit the deck around them, the team managed to stay upright and out of trouble. Into the last kilometre everything was looking good to set Mezgec up a sprint but in the last corner Mezgec slipped and lost control slightly but managed to not come down. As a result he lost the wheels and Veelers was left at the front to go from a long way out.

 

Veelers faded in the last hundred metres as two others came around him, with Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) taking the win. Mezgec finished in eighth with Bert De Backer in ninth.

 

Earlier in the day, double stage winner Marcel Kittel did not start the stage after a deteriorating bout of fever ruled him out. The decision was taken together with the Team Giant-Shimano medical staff and coaches to withdraw Kittel from the race before the stage.

 

Much of the short 112km stage was neutralised by the peloton due to the dangerous, wet road conditions but as the race reached the finishing circuits in Bali, the pace was gradually increased and come the bell lap the race was back on in earnest.

 

The reason the peloton was worried was the slipperiness of road surface when the rain fell, and unfortunately on the final lap the race did return causing many a rider to come to grief. The Team Giant-Shimano lead-out managed to avoid any trouble and headed into the final kilometre with four riders at the front, however in the final left hand corner into the finish straight the race fell apart.

 

Mezgec, riding in second wheel into the corner, slipped and managed to hold his bike upright but as a result lost all speed and dropped his chain. This caused a split between himself and Veelers as other sprinters came past in pursuit of Veelers who saw the problem and gave it everything.

 

Unfortunately the road was slightly too long for Veelers as he faded and was passed in the last hundred metres to finish on the bottom step of the podium.

 

“All credit to the guys out there today, they were so focused on doing what they had to do and staying out of trouble,” said Team Giant-Shimano coach, Addy Engels. “Already from the start of the stage we had to change plan after deciding that Marcel would not start the stage and then they had a bizarre day to get through that even though it wasn’t always full gas it was easy to drop your guard and lose focus.

 

“Everything was going according to plan at the end until the final corner. We were in pole position to win the stage but Luka slipped and lost his chain. This put Tom in position to go for the stage and it is a shame for the guys that it didn’t come off.

 

“There are disappointed faces around but we should concentrate on the positives from today – the way we prepared the sprint and rode as a team at the finish was good to see and we have a long race ahead with other opportunities to take.”

 

Eighth place finisher Mezgec added: “As a team we did a really good job in the final kilometres, staying upright and avoiding the crashes and after the big one everything was looking good for us. We then hit the bumpy road into the final corner where I lost my chain – game over.

 

“We are disappointed not to have won the stage and to also have lost Marcel but that is racing and we will move on now. The feelings for me are good though after the rest day and I will concentrate on the sprint opportunities ahead of us and try to keep the momentum going in the team.”

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