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"At 80 kilos this was not my favorite course, but you have to try. It was such a big breakaway with so many strong riders that I soon ran out of ideas."

Photo: Sirotti




20.07.2015 @ 22:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Not content to be just a helper in his first Tour de France, Team Katusha’s Marco Haller seized the moment in Monday’s stage 16 to go in the break of the day. Once part of the 23-man effort, Haller wondered what he’d gotten himself into, but a word of advice from the team car showed the Austrian national road champion that there are many cards to play on the roads of France.


"It was another hot day like all the others. You might think we’d be used to it, but it’s unbelievably exhausting. But I said OK, let’s try to be in the breakaway. At 80 kilos this was not my favorite course, but you have to try. It was such a big breakaway with so many strong riders that I soon ran out of ideas. But my sports director Torsten Schmidt said to try something before the climb and it was perfect to work with a strong rider like Adam Hansen. In the end we didn’t succeed but I don’t think it’s a shame to go down fighting," said team rider Marco Haller.


On the way into Gap with some 45 km to go, Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) attacked the large 23-man break and went clear by more than 30-seconds. Haller mounted a chase, bridging across to the front rider and cooperating fully to move the gap out to one minute. On the final climb Haller and Hansen were brought back, setting up a winning move by Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) who flew off the front with 18 km to go and was never seen again by the front of the race. His winning time of 4.30.10 was 30-seconds ahead of Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and thirty-six seconds in front of IAM Cycling’s Jarlinson Pantano. Marco Haller was 16th at 2.40 on the 201 km stage from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap. 


"I’m just happy the stage is finished and now it’s a rest day. This is my first Tour de France and it was very special to be leading the Tour de France up until the last climb. The atmosphere is phenomenal and I’m so happy to have been a protagonist in today’s race, not only just a starter.  I really thank Katusha for bringing me to the Tour," concluded Marco Haller. 


"We know that at this point in the Tour the breakaways are really very big and there is the chance to get good experience. All year Marco has been very good and he was free to go in the break today. All three of the team directors were happy to see him there. Everyone is very tired now, but Marco is very young and he recovered well from yesterday’s effort. He was super motivated today in his first Tour. It was a great day," said team director Torsten Schmidt. 


Meanwhile the yellow jersey group was a whopping 18-minutes behind the leaders and proceeded carefully down the melting road into Gap. With hairpin curves and rough roads, more than a few riders experienced sliding wheels and treacherous lines into the curves. Most notable was race leader Chris Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas being run off the road by another rider taking the curve too wide, with Thomas flipping off the bike and down the roadside ravine, but he remounted and raced in only a few seconds behind Froome’s group. There was no change on the overall as the peloton goes into the second rest day on Tuesday before reaching the Alps for stage 17. Chris Froome still leads by 3.10 to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and 3.32 to BMC’s Tejay van Garderen.



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