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"It's the first time I am here and I know there are still two tough days, but I'm good and have a very strong team. Hopefully we can get the final victory for Gasparotto.” 

Photo: A.S.O.


25.07.2016 @ 21:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dimitri Claeys (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) confirmed the huge potential he showed at this year’s Tour of Flanders by taking the biggest win of his career on the hilly third stage of the Tour de Wallonie. Having made it into a 33-rider group that sprinted for the win, he went from afar and held off the fast-finishing Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) who took the overall lead on a countback, and Jonathan Hivert (Fortuneo-Vital Concept).


We have gathered a few reactions.


Dimitri Claeys hopes to win the Tour de Wallonie for injured Gasparotto

Dimitri Claeys won this Monday the third stage of the Tour de Wallonie (2.HC). After 200.6 kilometres between Braine L'Alleud and Vielsam Dimitri Claeys was faster than Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step) and Frenchman Jonathan Hivert (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) in the sprint. It is the ninth victory of the season for Wanty-Groupe Gobert, the first for the ninth of the Tour of Flanders.

"I knew I had to wait for the sprint because I quickly realized that it was not possible to attack on the climbs. This victory is very important for our partners," Dimitri Claeys said.


The team Wanty-Groupe Gobert rode a perfect race. First Boris Dron was part of a breakaway of three riders. They got a maximum lead of 3'40" on the peloton. They were caught on the first ascent of Mont-Le-Soie. On the descent of the second and final climb of Mont-Le-Soie Thomas Degand followed an attack of Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling). The two riders were caught with one kilometre to go. 33 riders sprinted for the stage win.

Dimitri Claeys started his sprint with 150m to go. Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step) came very close to him in the last metres but he could keep a small advantage.


”Today, we have followed the tactic to the letter with Boris Dron in the break and Thomas Degand on the attack in the final kilometers. I knew I had to wait for the sprint as attacking would not work for me. I staked everything on the sprint. This sprint suited me because it was a false flat. I was afraid of Gianni Meersman coming back, but I managed to stay ahead until the finish line.


"Yesterday everyone was disappointed after the withdrawal of Enrico Gasparotto. He was our team captain. He sent us last night a message to encourage us. Therefore changed our tactic. This is a collective victory. Personally it is a revenge on the first few months. I was expecting a bit more from the Flemish classics. I went on a training in early July to be in shape for the Tour de Wallonie.

"We were disappointed after the fall and the withdrawal of our leader Enrico Gasparotto in Roeulx on Sunday.  I wanted to avenge my lacklustre early season. I was without a win while I had my arms in the airsix times in 2015. My recent altitude training camp has put me in excellent condition. 


"I am delighted that this season has finally brought some succes. During the spring classics I was already good, but winning is of course not easy. After the disappointing results in the spring, I went to altitude training and I made a change in my head. Something had to change.


"Whether it is the cause of this victory I do not know, but it is important, especially after the loss of our leader Gasparotto. He could certainly win here.


“My team did a great job on Monday with Boris Dron in a breakaway and Thomas Degand in the final. I am 2nd overall in the same time as Gianni Meersman. There are still two tough stages and this opens up opportunities.


"It's the first time I am her and I know there are still two tough days, but I'm good and have a very strong team. Hopefully we can get the final victory for Gasparotto.”

In the general classification the ninth of the Tour of Flanders has the same time as the leader Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step).


"It is often a matter of time bonuses. There are still two hard stages to go. I will fight for the general classification. I feel good and I have a strong team around me," he concluded.


“I am at the same time as Meersman overall. This success obviously opens perspectives. This is an important success for our Walloon sponsors Wanty and Groupe Gobert.”

Tomorrow the fourth stage takes place between Aubel and Herstal(177 km), a difficult stage with eight climbs.


Overall leader Gianni Meersman: I am finally back at a good level

Etixx – Quick-Step had a plan at the start of the day, and that was holding onto the overall lead of the Tour de Wallonie. Tom Boonen was first in the overall standings, following the victory he got on Saturday and the second place he nabbed one day later, but with the tough course which was awaiting the peloton on stage 3, he was aware there's a strong chance he will have to concede the yellow jersey. For that reason, the team controlled all the attacks in first hour and a half of racing and made sure of setting up Gianni Meersman for the intermediate sprint, where the 30-year-old nabbed two seconds.


On the 4.5-km long hill, Katusha went all in with a two-pronged attack, but Etixx – Quick-Step reacted immediately and brought the duo back. The skirmishes continued and two other men powered away, managing to stay clear until under the flamme rouge arch, when the peloton – which was counting some 30-odd riders – came back. In the final 200 meters, Dimitri Claeys (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was the first to accelerate, sparking the sprint of Gianni Meersman, who dashed to the line and took second place, behind his countryman, but ahead of Jonathan Hivert (Fortuneo-Vital Concept).


The bonus seconds he got on Monday pushed Gianni Meersman into the yellow jersey, which he took from Tom Boonen, who held since Saturday. For his part, Tom retained the green jersey, which rewards the leader of the points classification.


"Today the start was quite hard, so it became difficult to control the attacks, but the team stayed at the front all day long and did a fantastic job. The last climb was tough and the guys worked hard to keep it together for me. I missed the victory for half of wheel, but I am happy for getting the yellow jersey. My condition is good and I will try to defend the lead over the next two stages, because I want to win the Tour de Wallonie", said Gianni Meersman, the 2014 champion.


"At first I was disappointed with my 2nd place, but I finally think I can be satisfied because I took possession of the yellow jersey in Vielsalm. I have not had a good spring, but I trained very well for this Tour de Wallonie which is a goal for me. I won in 2014 with four second places and a stage win and in 2012, I was just one second behind Giacomo Nizzolo.


"This year it has taken a long time before I got back to acceptable levels. After the Belgian Championships I started to work hard, with the good form that I now have as a result.


"In the spring I was not up to standard but since the Tour of Belgium, I have made every effort to get up there again.


"The Tour de Wallonie is really a goal for me. Two years ago I won it and that is the plan this year. I can count on an excellent team. Especially De La Cruz was strong on the climbs of the Côte Mont-Le-Soie today


“On the last climb, the pace was fast. We set a fast tempo, which prevented the attacks. I felt good and I was surprised that Claeys is so strong.


“I was very disappointed after the Belgian championship. Therefore, I trained hard for this Tour de Wallonie. I have not won today, but this yellow jersey is a nice compensation. With my second place in the second intermediate sprint, I get it. In 2012, I lost the Tour de Wallonie by one second to Giacomo Nizzolo. I know that every second counts.


”Now, the yellow jersey is a goal and hopefully my second part of the season will be better. My next races are the Tour of Burgos and the Vuelta. I do not care about my contract now. My manager takes care of that. But of course, it's good for the morale and for the rest of the Tour de Wallonie which is an important race of my season.”

Tom Boonen: I felt immediately that it would be too hard

"Before the stage, it was decided to play the card of Gianni Meersman today,” Boonen told Het Nieuwsblad. “Personally, I had no legs. I had not done much before entering the final circuit, but I immediately felt that I couldn’t make. I still tried my luck, but it was not possible for me to do something today. I am in good condition but not yet in top shape.


“It was a very difficult stage. I think everyone was already tired when we got to the last forty kilometers because of the fast pace early in the race. But I'm happy with my race today.


”Now we have two stage to win this Tour de Wallonie with Gianni Meersman. Personally, my goal was to win a stage, which is done. Now that I have the green jersey, I'll try to keep it. It would be very nice to get to Liege with two jerseys in the team. "

Excellent performance by Katusha in Wallonia

Team KATUSHA showed its strength today in stage 3 of the VOO-Tour de Wallonie (Braine-l’Alleud – Vielsalm, 200,6 km). Vladimir Isaychev became part of 3-man breakaway, spending more than half of the stage in front of the race. Isaychev was the last rider who gave up and was caught by the peloton, but after the finish the KATUSHA rider took the prize as the most combative rider of the day.


On the last climb of the day with 10 km to go, two KATUSHA riders, Pavel Kochetkov and Viacheslav Kuznetsov, made a strong double attack. This attack split the peloton in parts, creating a leading group of 30-35 riders.


”Today we tried to show ourselves since the team is in good shape and we have the riders who could do well on this profile. Vladimir Isaychev did a strong race in the break, protecting the team’s interests. Later, when the break was caught, we still had three riders in front – Kuznetsov, Kochetkov and Egor Silin. We were very active in the final, Kochetkov and Kuznetsov attacked for several times, while Silin supported them in the group. Finally, it was impossible to avoid the massive sprint, but we still protected the position of Viacheslav Kuznetsov in the general classification. We have two hard days ahead and everything is still possible in this race. We will keep on fighting,” said sports director Gennady Mikhaylov.


Viacheslav Kuznetsov finished 10th. This result was enough for Kuznetsov to hold his third place in the general classification. After three stages the Team KATUSHA rider is just 3 seconds behind the new overall leader Dimitri Claeys. In addition, Kuznetsov still holds the red jersey as the leader in intermediate sprints classification.


Wallonie talent back in the mountains jersey in Wallonia

Thomas Deruette (Wallonie) is back in the mountains jersey


"I wanted to try my luck in the final to go pick up points and take the jersey,” he told Directvelo. “That's what I did. The right group then got away and I did not have the legs to hang on during the second lap of local cricuit.


“Now I will try to keep this jersey until the end of the Tour de Wallonie. I think I'll try to join the breakaway tomorrow to consolidate this jersey, especially given my quiet day today. In fact I have only done 20km in the lead. Therefore I hope to have good legs tomorrow."


Wallonie climber: Tomorrow I can surprise everybody

Antoine Warnier (Wallonie Bruxelles) is leading the young rider classification


"It is true that the fight lasted long early in the race,” he told Directvelo. “But I never tried to join the break. I had indeed save the maximum for the entrance of the local circuit. I then managed to hang on and take the jersey of best young rider.


”Now I want to defend my fourth place overall and even try to get onto the podium. A fourth place overall, is good, but the podium is even better. And if I can be up there, I think the jersey of the best young rider will follow. I will fight to achieve those two goals.


”Tomorrow, I may surprise everyone. I know the roads of the final circuit very well. I use them regularly to visit my girlfriend. I am happy to shine on those roads. Who knows, maybe I can impress people? For me, a group of 50 or 60 riders is expected to fight for victory in Herstal.”



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