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“Sagan was simply too good today. Hushovd went very early and Sagan was on my wheel. In the end he passed us very easily. 

Photo: Trek Factory Racing

DANNY VAN POPPEL

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TOUR OF CALIFORNIA

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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18.05.2014 @ 11:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

20-year-old Danny Van Poppel continued his steady progress in the sprinting scene when he finished third in yesterday's seventh stage of the Tour of California. The young Dutchman survived some very tough climbing before sprinting onto the podium but admitted that stage winner Peter Sagan had been in a class of his own.

 

There was one goal for Trek Factory Racing’s young rising sprinter: get over the tough climbs mid-stage to contest the last chance for a sprint finish at the Amgen Tour of California. It was not an easy feat for the 20 year old, but today the legs cooperated. At the top of the last ascent, when the tally was taken, Danny was there, part of a hugely reduced peloton that was definitely showing the effects of a tough week of racing in searing-hot temperatures.

 

“I saw that Danny was climbing really well today, so that told me he had good legs," Jasper Stuyven said. "He knows in the final, that I will come in front of him; we don’t have to say a lot. At the end he knows when people are coming around so he will yell at me so I can move on time. It’s working out pretty well between us without a lot of communication.”

 

After the climbs the chase began in earnest for the seven men who had formed the day’s breakaway, with Cannondale doing the bulk of the work. The criterium-like finish - three circuits of five kilometers - spelled the end to the last of the breakaway relics, as the pinstriped team lined up behind Cannondale, keeping Vam Poppel safely in front.

 

With the pace hitting Mach-like speed in the final three kilometers, Jasper Stuyven was able to provide the last bit of help that Van Poppel needed.

 

“We were in the front pretty early. It was hard for me [at the end] because before that I was also on the front with the wind. But we were able to take the corner third or fourth wheel with one kilometer to go. [Taylor] Phinney kept the pace high, which was good, but I was dying, so I made the sign to Danny that he needed to move to the wheel of [Thor] Hushovd since I could not stay there to do the leadout. He jumped to Hushovd and from there he made a good sprint.”

 

Inserted in perfect position from the great teamwork, Van Poppel had nothing left to do but sprint. Hushovd jumped first, Van Poppel followed, but a blazing fast Peter Sagan left both in his wake. Hushovd held on for second, with Van Poppel taking third.

 

“Sagan was simply too good today," he said. "Hushovd went very early and Sagan was on my wheel. In the end he passed us very easily. There were a lot of corners on the circuit; you had to take a lot of risks. Jasper did great work. I really want to thank him!

 

"It was a really hard week, and today was super hard again. I’m third, and that’s okay for me - I am happy with that! The first day I was a little disappointed [with fifth], but now – yah, I am happy.”

 

The 142.8-kilometer stage began with many motivated riders attempting to be in the day’s breakaway. It kept the pace high until the 30-kilometer mark when a break was finally granted the freedom to go up the road. Jens Voigt made multiple attempts to join a move, but when the seven drifted away, it was without a Trek Factory Racing member in their midst.

 

“I tried to go 6, 7, or 8 times. It appears that I am the king of the peloton - the most feared rider – because half of the peloton apparently have been told, ’whenever Jens goes in a break, you go with him.’  So I have no chance! I have 100 guys on my wheel: 50 guys who don’t want to let me go, and 50 that want to go away with me!

 

“It’s hard when your reputation lasts longer than your legs. But hey, I will try again tomorrow!”

 

Tomorrow the race ends with a tough circuit race in Thousand Oaks, and it will be the last chance for Jens Voigt to make good on his desire to ride a breakaway in his last Amgen Tour of California.  Whatever happens, there is no doubt that 'Jensie' will not leave without a fight. 

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