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“Fränk [Schleck] pulled for most of the last kilometers, but Taaramäe was just too strong; alone he was even taking more time on the peloton. So he deserves to win."

Photo: Sirotti

BAUKE MOLLEMA

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FABIO FELLINE

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FRANK SCHLECK

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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VUELTA A MURCIA

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14.02.2015 @ 19:03 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

A late solo breakaway stole the show for the 198-kilometer Vuelta a Murcia Saturday. Rein Taaramäe (Astana) attacked one kilometer from the top of the day’s long climb and with almost 50 kilometers to race no one paid the rider from Estonia much heed.  But when Taaramäe gained time on the long descent, then further increased his lead in the valley, the sirens sounded loudly behind. 

 

Trek Factory Racing led the chase, but with little help from others in the leading group Taaramäe’s advantage proved too much and he held off the chase to cross the line alone for a well-deserved victory.

 

 

Ten seconds later Bauke Mollema sprinted to second ahead of Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step) after a great lead out from Fabio Felline, who still managed fourth place.

 

“Today it was a very good job by the guys all day. We tried to catch Taaramäe in the last 30 kilometers,” explained Bauke Mollema.“Fränk [Schleck] pulled for most of the last kilometers, but Taaramäe was just too strong; alone he was even taking more time on the peloton. So he deserves to win and it was nice to be second and to be on the podium, but I have to say I was hoping to win today. But he was just too strong.”

 

Trek Factory Racing’s director Josu Larrazabal added: “On the long climb we had Fabio, Bauke, and Fränk in a group of 28. Taaramäe attacked and had 30 seconds at the top but with almost 50k to go we did not think it was a dangerous situation. After the downhill, he had one minute thirty, and with 25k to go it was a full head wind and he increased his gap to two minutes thirty! Surprisingly, Katusha and Movistar stopped pulling. Fränk did a great job; he pulled by himself for 20kms but he only could keep the gap the same.”

 

It was a valiant effort by Fränk Schleck as he single-handedly tried to pull back the Estonian, but it was soon apparent that everyone was racing for second.

 

After a day where Trek Factory Racing worked hard from start to finish, they decided to not let the podium slip its grasp. Fabio Felline was designated to stop working the chase and instead focus on the tough uphill finish to help Bauke Mollema secure the next best place possible.

 

“Taaramäe must have done the downhill unbelievably fast and by the time we got organized on the flat he had like two minutes,” added Fränk Schleck. “We were pulling and we took some time back at first, but then we decided that Felline should pull the sprint for Bauke so it was just me pulling for the last 20-25 kilometers. There was not really any help from other riders, and we could not catch him. All we could do then was wait for the sprint.”

 

Fabio Felline did a superb job for Bauke Mollema on the tough uphill finish (2kms at 5.8%) as he led the team’s leader into the final 500 meters. Trek Factory Racing decreased the gap to Taaramäe to a mere 10 seconds by the finish - close, but not enough - and Mollema sprinted over the line to claim second.  Felline continued his lead out and in an amazing show of strength held on for fourth place. Fränk Schleck also finished in the top 20, crossing in the same time for 17th place.

 

 

“We wanted to make the race hard,” Mollema continued. “On the final climb there were a few attacks at the bottom – it was a nice climb, around 1.6kms and really explosive. I was second two years ago so I knew the finish. Felline went really fast at 400- 500 meters to go and that was really good for me because I like to have a long sprint. He did a very good job, Fränk also, and in the end it was good to be second, but it’s always better to win.”

 

“It was a pity to be second,” agreed Larrazabal, “but when a guy goes as strong as this in the front there is nothing to say. I am happy with the team because there was a dangerous 12-man breakaway with some big names that went on one of the first climbs after around 15kms. Hayden [Roulston], Eugenio [Alafaci] and Fumy [Beppu] did a great job here to pull this back.”

 

 Fränk Schleck heaped praise on his teammates as he summed up the day: “It was such a great team effort from everyone today; we showed our strength together and it’s too bad that we did not have the win to show for it.” 

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