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"It's another experience of battling at the Tour de France. I look forward to the next stages and will do my best and keep learning as a young guy in my second Grand Tour."

Photo: Sirotti

JAN BAKELANTS

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MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI

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SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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18.07.2014 @ 23:10 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Like he did several times last year, Michal Kwiatkowski again proved that he is a master in limiting his losses in today's big mountain stage of the Tour de France. Supported by his teammate Michal Golas, he got dropped early in the stage but constantly fought his way and ended the stage in 19th.

 

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski placed 19th in the 197.5km high mountain stage, from Saint-Etienne to an HC summit finish in Chamrousse on Friday. Jan Bakelants chased his way into a breakaway, and was able to stay away until about 15km remained in the stage.

 

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won solo, after attacking what was left of the peloton with 6.6km to go and quickly catching Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Leopold Konig (Team NetApp-Endura), who had accelerated earlier on the final climb.

 

Kwiatkowski crossed 4'12" down, and was supported well by OPQS through the climbs. Fellow Polish rider Michal Golas did a great job pacing Kwiatkowski through the climbs.

 

Jan Bakelants and Rudy Molard chased their way into an original breakaway of seven riders. The new nine-rider escape group had 3 minutes of an advantage just 45km into the stage. Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) eventually went solo, but Bakelants gave all he had to try and chase De Marchi on his own. Both riders were eventually reeled in.

 

OPQS looks next to a 177km high mountain stage from Grenoble to Risoul. There are two Category 1 climbs, the first being 34km in length. The summit finish is 12.6km in length, and 6.9% in average gradient. Between those two climbs is HC Col d'Izoard (19km, 6%).

"I had a lot of support from the guys entering the second-to-last climb," Kwiatkowski said. "Even if I didn't have the best legs on the second-to-last climb they protected me well, and it helped me a lot mentally. I lost contact a few times but Golas always took me back. I was trying to find my limits somewhere and find my own rhythm at that point.

 

"I felt much better on the last climb taking my own tempo. Golas brought me to the middle of the climb and then I went on my own. I passed a few guys and while losing four minutes is disappointing, in the end I did everything I could do. It's another experience of battling at the Tour de France. I look forward to the next stages and will do my best and keep learning as a young guy in my second Grand Tour."

"The seven went and I was not there, so I chased them down," Bakelants said. "When we arrived in the group we hoped to get a significant gap, but the peloton kept it controlled. So, we tried to increase our speed, and we got up to four minutes and 55 seconds. But on a stage like today, with those big climbs, it needed to be more than that.

 

"At the bottom of the second-to-last climb we had a 45 kilometer per hour average, with a minute and 40 ahead of the peloton. Then on the climb I was with Kadri. De Marchi came back to us, and he distanced us. I tried to chase him down, but it didn't work out.

 

"Then on the last climb the peloton was down to 20 guys speeding up behind us and after the effort of the earlier kilometers it was impossible to stay away. But OK, this is the second time I've tried in the breakaway. Maybe another opportunity will be there and the third time can be the charm. You never know until you try and I'm certainly trying." 

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