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"I did not have the punch to attack on the climb at the end, if it would have been four or five kilometers that would have been better. I also was already full gas. But it was a hard race, a nice race, and it was good for the confidenc...

Photo: Sirotti




17.09.2014 @ 20:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Frank Schleck showed that he is getting ready for the World Championships and the GP de Wallonie when he was a key animator in the GP de Wallonie. However, the Luxembourger was on his limit in the finale and so had to settle for 8th.


Trek Factory Racing played the Grand Prix de Wallonie to plan and waited until the latter part of the 198.2-kilometer race to launch key attacks, with both Laurent Didier and Fränk Schleck creating dangerous breakaway groups in the final 50 kilometers. In the end the escapes were quashed, but not before Trek Factory Racing took the race in hand to help make an exhilarating finale where Fränk Schleck held on for a respectable 8th place finish. Laurent Didier also finished with the decmated front group that arrived to the finish for 25th place (+31").


“The plan today was to focus on the finale as we knew an early break stood no chance," sports director Dirk Demol said. " We decided to wait until the final 50-55kms and then Laurent was attacking and five riders joined him and they had maximum 45 seconds, but QuickStep was not there, and a few other good teams. So they came back and with 25k to go Fränk attacked with three others. But Tinkoff and Topsport chased hard, and it was almost back at the bottom of the last climb to the finish.


"You could see [the breakaway] were beginning to look at each other on the last climb. There were a few accelerations from Bakelants but the group of 20 riders was almost there. But okay, what can we say? It was a strong finale. It was a nice race to watch, and a really nice finish, and we were really participating in the finale. We attacked twice, first with Didier up the road and then the right breakaway was Fränk. No, they did a really good race."


It was 55-kilometers from the finish that the peloton absorbed the day’s initial breakaway and a new race began with Trek Factory Racing leading the way.  Laurent Didier attacked out of the peloton and drew out five other legs, and the new escape held off the pursuit from behind until 25 kilometers remained. 


Fränk Schleck then countered on an uphill, and his move shattered the peloton and created a dangerous move of four, which included eventual race winner Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Jan Bakelants (OPQS), who finished third. Although the quartet gained a maximum lead of 40 seconds the chase group had them in sight by the bottom of the final climb.


Bakelants tried twice to shed the other three on the uphill finish, but under the red kite the four were swarmed by the strongest from the chase. However, a savvy Greg Van Avermaet saved enough to outkick all and take the victory by a few bike lengths. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) came out of the chase group to finish second, while Jan Bakelants held on for third.


Schleck's eighth place finish came on a climb that definately suited his breakaway companions more. Overall he was satisfied with his race, but was quick to heap praise on the team after their performance.


“First of all I have to say that the team worked really well today and that was nice to see," Schleck said. "Laurent did a very good job to make the race hard, and the other guys always stayed around us. I attacked with around 30k to go and I paid for that at the end. It was a bit of a cat and mouse game at the end, and we did not work together on the final climb - it is always like that with a small group of leaders that can win the race.


"I did not have the punch to attack on the climb at the end, if it would have been four or five kilometers that would have been better. I also was already full gas. But it was a hard race, a nice race, and it was good for the confidence for the end of the season."


Three days ago Fränk, Laurent and Stijn Devolder were in Montreal, Canada competing in the GP Cycliste de Montreal, and although the jetlag was apparent today, Schleck explained it was felt more off the bike than on:


“I missed breakfast this morning and I had to have it in the bus because I woke up too late, and I am going to be really tired in about a half hour from now! I am definitely in the jetlag but it did not affect me in the race. You have so much adrenalin shooting through your body that you do not really have it, you push that away in the race.  It’s not an ideal situation, but I don’t think it had anything to do on my performance today.”



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