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“In the key moment, only Sagan was able to follow Cancellara. Sebastian made no excuses for this. Behind those two guys, for me, Sebastian was the strongest rider in the race," sports director Laurenzo Lapage says

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JENS KEUKELEIRE

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN

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SEBASTIAN LANGEVELD

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STUART O´GRADY

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01.04.2013 @ 12:46 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

 

When Fabian Cancellara made his move on the final passage of the Oude Kwaremont in yesterday's Tour of Flanders, Orica-GreenEdge captain Sebastian Langeveld and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) were the riders to come closest to joining the move of Cancellara and Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Langeveld ended up 10th, but according to his sports director his strength made him deserve much more.

 

With Sebastian Langeveld being one of the strongest riders in the most important pre-Flanders test at the E3 Harelbeke, it was no surprise to see a confident Australian team rally completely behind their Dutch captain in yesterday's first of two cobbled monuments. The squad put all their hope into the Dutchman's ability to follow the strongest riders on the final passage of the Oude Kwaremont.

 

He came close, but the furious of Cancellara was too much for the 2011 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner. He briefly escaped with Sylvain Chavanel in pursuit of Cancellara, Peter Sagan and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), but as riders regrouped he ended up in the group sprinting for 4th.

 

Sports director Laurenzo Lapage admitted that victory was beyond their reach. However, Langeveld had deserved a better result.

 

“Sebastian was honest and agreed that the strongest one in the race today was Cancellara,” he said. “In the key moment, only Sagan was able to follow Cancellara. Sebastian made no excuses for this. Behind those two guys, for me, Sebastian was the strongest rider in the race. That’s sport and next week maybe the situation can be changed.”

 

Saving energy

With the Australian team focusing all the efforts on supporting Langeveld's final bid, the team was invisible throughout most of the day. The lack of early efforts was part of the pre-race tactics.

 

“We took the risk not to go in the early moves because we needed numbers at the end,” Lapage explained. “Also, the part between the Valkenberg and Kwaremont is too long and too fast for a break to survive.”

 

Inside the final 80km of the race, team veteran Stuart O'Grady broke the Australian team's silence. He joined a 3-man move instigated by Anders Lund (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and managed to stay ahead for several kilometres.

 

In the end, the group failed in their attempt to reach the front group, but Lapage did not view O'Grady's efforts as a waste of energy.

 

“What Stuey (O'Grady, ed.) did was a gamble,” he said “It could have worked, and if it had, we would all have said it was great. Because it didn’t work, people want to call it a useless move. I don’t agree with that at all.”

 

Untimely puncture

The team also had its fair share of bad luck. Jens Keukeleire was expected to be Langeveld's key domestique in the final part of the race, but an untimely puncture took out the talented Belgian.

 

“We lost Jens Keukeleire because of a puncture on the bottom of the Kwaremont the first time,” Lapage explained. “That was bad luck. I’m sure Jens would have been in the front group without that problem.”

 

Despite the disappointing result, Lapage was happy with his squad's performance, and now hopes that the team's strength will be reflected in the results in next Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.

 

“I saw good work from the team today,” he told. “If everyone had stuck to the plan, we could have had an even better result.”

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