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"We were hoping that Fabio Felline still had his good legs from Circuit de la Sarthe, but he was not 100% today. They all helped him, but he simply did not feel great at the end," Gallopin says

Photo: Trek Factory Racing








16.04.2014 @ 19:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having taken fourth at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe queen stage, Fabio Felline arrived as a dangrous outsider for today's Brabantse Pijl semi-classic. However, the Italian had bad legs and never featured in the finale of what proved to be disappointing race for his Trek team.


The 200-kilometer race from Leuven to Overijse with 26 “hellingen” was a calm affair until the peloton hit the final finishing circuits. A six-man break had escaped from the start and still had two minutes advantage as the peloton crossed the finish line for the start of three 23.4-kilometer loops containing five climbs and ending on the Schavei, 700 meters with a maximum gradient of 11 percent.


The climbs on the tough circuit, coupled with a barrage of attacks from the peloton resulted in the breakaway – now down to five riders – being caught on the penultimate circuit and forming a leading group of 10. The leg breaking circuits also exploded the peloton, and it was a decimated group numbering around 50 that remained.


With no one represented in the 10 leaders BMC led a blistering pace at the front of the peloton and the gap was 30 seconds crossing the line for the start of the final circuit.  Ahead the breakaway lost members over the Schavei finish climb and was down to six with 23 kilometers remaining.  


BMC’s Philippe Gilbert made an attempt to bridge, while behind Trek Factory Racing’s Fabio Felline, sensing the danger, jumped out of the peloton with a small group. Despite Gilbert latching to the leaders with 12.5 kilometers left, the peloton upped its speed, and a few kilometers later - with 10 kilometers to go - all was back together in one large bunch.


“Fabio said at the end he did not have great legs so he wanted to go on the attack and not arrive with the big guys," explained Boy van Poppel, riding the Brabantse Pijl with only two days rest after Paris-Roubaix. “From the start it was very hard for me. I did not expect too much; I had sore legs. After 100k I was beginning to feel better.  I was in a chase group of 10 on the circuits just by following good wheels, but when we were caught I had to let go of the peloton on the final lap.”


And so it all came down to the final uphill. At the finish Philippe Gilbert still had enough left to outkick Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge) with Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) a bike length behind for third.  Fabio Felline was the highest finisher for the team in 26th.


“Yesterday in the hotel I told Fabio [Felline] it was very simple race tomorrow, because it’s a very selective race,” said director Dirk Demol. “So I was surprised when there were still 50-60 together at the end. Felline and [Kristof] Vandewalle both tried something in the last kilometers, and I had told them to watch [Philippe] Gilbert, he is always good here, but you have to have the legs also, and that was not the case today. Jasper [Stuyven] and Boy [van Poppel] were both direct from Paris-Roubaix, and both were not fully recovered.


“We did what we could; we had a very young team here, and it is a very hard race. I told the boys we do not go into an early breakaway, and to save it all for the final. We were hoping that Fabio Felline still had his good legs from Circuit de la Sarthe, but he was not 100% today. They all helped him, but he simply did not feel great at the end. It was okay, not a great performance, but c’est la vie.”



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