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“We are not surprised by Jasper's result - he is a rider that can survive in a race like today, and he has a good finish. It was a hard parcours, so it was a nice third place by Jasper," Demol says

Photo: Trek Factory Racing

LAURENT DIDIER

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TOUR DE WALLONIE 

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30.07.2014 @ 21:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having mostly worked in the service of the team's main stars, Jasper Stuyven got his own chance to shine in today's queen stage of the Tour de Wallonie. The young Belgian did great by taking third place which came as no surprise for his Trek team.

 

Each stage at the Tour de Wallone increased in difficulty with today’s final stage capping the five-day event by using the final 25-kilometers of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

 

The sprinters ruled the first four stages and today's 180.6-kilometer queen stage offered the best chance for the climbers to shine.

 

However, Omega Pharma-Quickstep was intent on a sprint finish, and to win the overall, and thwarted all attacks in the final punishing kilometers: in the end it was a 40-strong group that arrived under the flame rouge to contest the uphill sprint finish.  

 

After four successive second places Gianni Meersman (OPQS) finally nailed the elusive victory, and easily sealed the overall of the Tour de Wallonie.

 

Trek Factory Racing was also smiling after the final stage as neo-pro Jasper Stuyven, 22, finished in third place, his best result this season. Stuyven, from Belgium, is no stranger to the brutal racing his homeland offers, and it was little surprise to see the budding young cyclist fighting it out in the final meters. 

 

Stuyven has been a superb domestique all year, riding in support of Fabian Cancellara in the Classics, and bumping elbows in the sprint finales assisting the team’s sprinters, notably Danny van Poppel. Today was finally an opportunity for Jasper to strut his own stuff.

 

“We are not surprised by Jasper's result - he is a rider that can survive in a race like today, and he has a good finish," sports director Dirk Demol said. "It was a hard parcours, so it was a nice third place by Jasper.

 

"Our plan was to survive today and make the best possible at the end. We helped in the chase [of the breakaway] because we knew that we had a chance for a good result. We missed out on the win, and a high GC, but the third place at the finish showed we were there and we tried.”

 

With 60-kilometers to race Trek Factory Racing joined forces with Omega Pharma-QuickStep to keep the seven-man breakaway that escaped in the first 15-kilometers at a reasonable distance. Danilo Hondo and Eugenio Alafaci swapped turns with the defending yellow jersey squad in a selfless show of teamwork.

 

It was on the third to last climb, the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, where the action heated and the first, and final, selection was made. The breakaway was reeled in as the peloton exploded on the sharp climb and a threatening group of six formed, with Laurent Didier just behind.

 

Didier would latch onto the six over the top - the climbers had finally emerged at the Tour de Wallonie. But it was a short-lived escape as the OPQS team was quick to shut it down. The regrouping resulted in a vastly decimated peloton around 40-strong, which included both Jasper Stuyven and Laurent Didier.

 

The attacks continued to the final few kilometers in Ans, but a determined OPQS held strong, slowly clawed back the moves, and set up the team’s well-earned win.

 

“I gave carte blanche to Laurent today so he could try to go for the GC," Demol said. "He tried; he was there and showed his condition is good. There was not much to do: the climbs are short and suit an explosive climber, and Omega Pharma-QuickStep wanted a bunch sprint.”

 

Laurent Didier was the highest finisher for Trek Factory in 29th, finishing with the same time as 16th place overall (+44”); in the end it was a race dominated by sprinters.

 

“We come away with a stage win, and a third place, and it gave us a good buildup for the next races," Demol said. "This week the team has shown they are in good form. We are looking forward to our next round.”

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