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"I came here after a month with no racing, and my only goal was to start the second half of my season and get in some good racing and training. But then I thought maybe I could get in a breakaway, and today was the right day. I felt go...

Photo: Sirotti






26.05.2013 @ 14:10 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

2012 Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) once again proved that he knows what it takes to win in the Ardennes when he emerged as the strongest from a formidable 7-man breakaway in the first of two stages in the Belgian hills yesterday. Having just returned to competition after a mid-season break, the Kazakh was surprised to take his first win of the season when he least expected it.


Maxim Iglinskiy never really hit the same kind of amazing form that saw him come out triumphant in last year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege and so a mid-season break should set him up for a better second part of the year. That break seemed to have had a good effect on the Kazakh classics specialist as he already won in his first race back, claiming the fourth stage of the Tour of Belgium yesterday.


Iglinskiy had joined the early break which was made up of a number of really strong classics riders. Ardennes specialist Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), cobbles hard man Gregory Rast (Radioshack), climber Sebastien Delfosse (Europcar), classics star Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), fast man Jens Debusschere (Lotto) and Florent Barle (Cofidis) joined the Kazakh and despite lingering only 2 minutes ahead for most of the race, the break was such a strong one and so the peloton had a hard time catching the escapees.


Iglinskiy out in his crucial acceleration with 1km to go and while the remaining escapees were caught by the bunch, the Kazakh held off his chasers to take a solo win. Andre Greipel (Lotto) won the sprint for second just a couple of seconds behind.


With the Tour of Belgium being his first race after the break, Iglinskiy was very surprised to already take a win on his fourth day of racing.


"I came here after a month with no racing, and my only goal was to start the second half of my season and get in some good racing and training," he said. "But then I thought maybe I could get in a breakaway, and today was the right day. I felt good, I had good legs, why not?"


"I was watching Voeckler and Rast in the breakaway, they were both very strong, as well as the guy from the Belgian team (Delfosse, ed.)," he explained. "But I waited and waited for them to get nervous, and at the final kilometer I had waited long enough."


Sports director Jaan Kirsipuu had already seen that the Kazakh was going strong and so he had encouraged his rider to try to be part of the action and not just follow wheels.


"The Tour of Belgium is his first race back after taking a break, and when he got here he didn't want to go full gas," he said. "But he did a good time trial yesterday (on Friday, ed.), and this morning I told him that he had good legs, and today was a stage for him."


Kirsipuu was very impressed by the tactical nous that Iglinskiy showed off in the hectic final part of the race.


"That's why he is a champion, he's very intelligent and he knows when to make the right move," he explained.


The Tour of Belgium comes to a close with its queen stage today. With the famous Col de la Redoute to be tackled three times along the way, Iglinskiy is in the terrain that saw him win that big Liege win but the team will most likely focus on the possibilities of an in-form Francesco Gavazzi to move up in the GC.



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