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"It was a hard one today. After the rest day, it is never easy to get back into rhythm. It was kind of a rollercoaster all day, up and down, and a hard final."

Photo: Sirotti












10.09.2014 @ 20:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Belkin were fully focused on Robert Gesink and Wilco Kelderman in today's stage of the Vuelta a Espana. The pair managed to get safely through but admitted that it had been a very tough day.


Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM's top riders stayed safe in Wednesday's hilly and fast 17th stage, but did not challenge the pure sprinters in a wild finale into La Coruña in Spain's Galicia region.

Wilco Kelderman led Belkin with 13th, safely in the front group behind stage-winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano). Robert Gesink also finished safely in the lead group to remain seventh overall, at 6:43 behind leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

"In the beginning it was directly uphill, it was full-gas, so that was really hard. The break got three minutes, and the peloton started to ride. It was a really hard, up and down all day," Kelderman said. "It was really tricky in the end. It was all downhill, then some cobbles, so that was really hectic. I think things look great for the team. Robert is riding well. Over the last few stages, he was in the front with the best guys. If he can hold this place, or even better, it's really good."

With Moreno Hofland already at home, Belkin didn't have a sprinter option for the fast run into La Coruña, so the team's main goal was to protect Gesink in the GC.

"The start was really full-gas, so warming up in the morning was important. Giant-Shimano took control. We tried to help Robert as much as possible. He was safe in the front group, so it's all done for today," said Belkin's Robert Wagner. "It was not boring today, in fact, it was quite nice along the coastline. There were nearly 3,000 metres of climbing, in barely four hours of racing, so it was a hard day."

The team rallied around Gesink to keep him safe in a tricky, but short cobblestone section in the final 5km.

"It was a fast stage, like we expected," said Belkin's Stef Clement. "It was a good group, so that means the pack has to pull all day. Robert was in a good position when we hit the cobblestone section, because you saw there was a gap there in 20 seconds, so that was important. That was our main goal today, to keep Robert safe. I hope I can keep my legs for a few more days."

Gesink finished safely in the main pack, at 26th, and is already looking forward to Saturday's uphill finale at Ancares.


"It was a hard one today. After the rest day, it is never easy to get back into rhythm. It was kind of a rollercoaster all day, up and down, and a hard final," Gesink said. "Things are still good for the GC. Seventh place is good already, with some hard days to come, so let's see what happens."

The 69th Vuelta continues Thursday with the 157km 18th stage finishing with two passages over the second-category Monte Castrove.

"There are some small climbs before the finish, that's OK for Robert. The final day is a time trial, so the penultimate day, with the long climb, is D-Day for him," Wagner said.



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