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"From one moment to the other, it went from blowing from all directions to being a true storm but moments later it was again totally calm. We had a lot of different information about the wind but it was never what we had expected."

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

JAN BAKELANTS

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MARK RENSHAW

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SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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20.07.2014 @ 21:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Going into today's stage, Omega Pharma-Quick Step had done nothing to hide that they planned to split the race in the crosswinds. However, the wind abated in the finale and instead the Belgian team tried to attack several times inside the closing kilometres.

 

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Mark Renshaw finished 5th in the 177km Stage 15 of Tour de France on Sunday. The Australian rider launched his sprint when two original breakaway riders were caught just meters before the line. 

 

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the stage, with Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) placing 2nd, and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) 3rd.

 

OPQS played a huge part in bringing the breakaway back. The gap was down to just 1'20" with 20.4km to go when Michal Kwiatkowski had a small gap, which forced a further acceleration of the peloton in order to chase him down and maintain control. The catch of the two breakaway riders Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) and Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) was by no means guaranteed, however, as it was pouring rain out on course and the peloton seemed to be slow to close the gap.

 

Tony Martin forced the field to chase again, going off the front with Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) at 4.3km to go. That move was brought back with the gap down to 30", and that is when Jan Bakelants counter attacked. OPQS was not finished, as Martin once again accelerated and, with the catch still in question, he kept driving the pace inside the final kilometer.

 

When Martin was finally brought back at 500 meters to go, it was up to the sprinters to try and catch Elmiger and Bauer as the gap was listed at 9 seconds. They finally did just before the line, with Renshaw one of the riders on the front launching the sprint that eventually passed them.

 

The Tour de France heads to the Pyrenees on Tuesday, after the rest day tomorrow. The longest stage of the Tour — 237.5km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon — includes HC Port de Bales (11.7km at 7.7%) with the summit at km 216 of the stage. The stage descends into a flat finish.

 

"It was totally crazy for three kilometres," sports director Brian Holm told Danish TV2. "From one moment to the other, it went from blowing from all directions to being a true storm but moments later it was again totally calm.

 

"We had a lot of different information about the wind but it was never what we had expected.

 

"In the finale, it wasn't slippery enough and the roundabouts were so big that we couldn't make a difference. We have good tires for rainy conditions so we know that we are faster in the roundabouts.

 

"We had no interest in catching the escapees. That is the job for the other teams and the two escapees did really well. In fact, it was a shame that they didn't make it. It would have been great for those guys to fight it out for the win.

 

"It was a shame that Roelandts refused to work with Tony. Then they might have had a chance to catch the escapees. But Roelandts was riding in support of Greipel. If he had contributed to the work, they would have had a chance."

 

"They told me this morning that I could take my chance if I had the legs," Bakelants told Sporza. "Martin and Kwiatkowski had already made an effort, so I also wanted to try it. But in dry finale it was difficult to escape.

 

"I thought it was guaranteed to be a bunch sprint and Renshaw should try to match Greipel. I tried but I did not know that there was a breakaway. Due to the rain, I had no information. If it is pouring down, you can not just ask your teammates what the race situation is."

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