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“He said he missed the last corner and almost crashed with 100 meters to go and if not for that he was quite sure that he would have finished second today.”  

Photo: Trek Factory Racing








27.07.2015 @ 20:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The rain returned for the third stage at Tour de Wallonie, the longest of the five-day race at 218 kilometers, and with the wet conditions came blustery winds. It was not an enjoyable day to be over five and half hours in the saddle, and explicable why the peloton arrived well past the slowest estimated time.


“It was 218 kilometers and all day up and down with half of the race again rain, and a strong wind as well,” explained director Dirk Demol. “There were heavy rain showers in the finale and it was a little bit dangerous with the small roads. It’s not the weather that we are supposed to have in July, even in Belgium!”


The last of a five-man breakaway was contained at the foot of the final climb, Côte de Citadelle, which topped out 300 meters from the line. The climb was not long or steep, but it was a tailor-made finish for arguably one of the best at uphill rushes: Philippe Gilbert (BMC) easily took the win with an attack no one could match and soloed across the line.


The sprint for the minor places was tight, and an on-form Danny van Poppel was in the mix that arrived four seconds later.


“There were 10 riders together in the last 500 meters and Danny was there,” continued Demol. “He said he missed the last corner and almost crashed with 100 meters to go and if not for that he was quite sure that he would have finished second today.”



Danny van Poppel sprinted to seventh in the same time as second place, and Fabio Felline finished a further 11 seconds later for 18th place, an impressive result after a bike change and lengthy chase to rejoin the select leading group zapped him of his usual aptitude for fast uphills.


“Fabio [Felline] was more the rider we expected for the finish today, but with around 20 kilometers to go he had a mechanical and we had to do a bike change and it was hell of a chase to come back.  He made it back to the select group of around 30 riders, but his best legs were gone so he couldn’t make a result today", Demol said.


The other unfortunate news was that Trek Factory Racing lost Hayden Roulston to an early crash, leaving the team down to four riders. However, what the team lacked in numbers was compensated with extremely adept riders.


“There was an early crash with seven or eight riders and four of them had to abandon, including Hayden. He is okay, but at that moment he could not continue," Demol said.


“Still two days to go and we only have four riders!  But Popo [Popovych] and Boy were amazing today. At the end Boy had a puncture and we were back helping Fabio so no one was there for him and he lost a lot of time. But both Boy and Popo did a good job today to bring Fabio and Danny to the final.”



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