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"I got caught behind the guys from the break going backwards and I wanted to pass on the right, but it wasn’t possible, and I had to brake and I lost maybe 30 places there. It was my mistake."

Photo: Sirotti








22.04.2015 @ 19:10 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Trek Factory Racing entered the 79th edition of La Flèche-Wallonne with big ambitions: Bauke Mollema was fourth here last year, Fabio Felline and Bob Jungels are showing great form, and Julian Arredondo could prove a dark-horse with his explosive climbing ability. Throw in the strong, experienced supporting legs of Fränk Schleck, plus the tireless work day-in-day-out from the unsung heroes Calvin Watson, Fumy Beppu and Laurent Didier and the team’s morale was high at race start.


A seven-man break escaped in the opening kilometers and it was tightly controlled affair from the get-go.  The action did not heat up until the last quarter of the 205.5-kilometer race and as the tension built numerous crashes ended the day for many riders, including Bob Jungels and Julian Arredondo.


Jungels and Arredondo were caught in a crash just before the second ascent of the Côte de Bohissau with less than 50 kilometers remaining, and it came unexpectedly at the front of the peloton.


“First of all I was feeling really, really good today. I had nice legs and we were about to start the climb where I wanted to attack. I think I was in the top 10 when it happened. [Philippe] Gilbert was just in front of me and I flew over him," Jungels said.


“It’s always a super, super nervous race, and I think today was special because it was easy in the bunch because everything was controlled so everyone was fresh.  In the end you can’t blame anyone [for the crash], but sometimes there are a few riders that take too much risk. We were going pretty fast so I am lucky to escape with just scrapes and bruises. Everything is good - I will be ready for Sunday.”


As crashes continued to riddle through the jittery peloton the day’s breakaway was down to two men. They held less than half a minute’s lead on the penultimate ascent of the Mur de Huy, and over the top attacks flew out of the peloton.  The pair was inevitably snuffed out as fresher legs assumed the lead, keeping the pressure on and the pace fierce to the bottom of the final climb of the Mur de Huy.


A dangerous attack came on the newly inserted penultimate climb as Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) made a bid for a solo win.  He entered the bottom of the Mur with a 12-second lead, but a 30 plus-strong peloton quickly mowed him down on the ridiculously steep slope.


In the final meters Alejandro Valverde made the win look easy; when he accelerated he quickly pulled away to take his second-straight victory atop the Mur de Huy. 


Bauke Mollema was the highest finisher for the team in 19th place.  For Mollema the result does not reflect how he was feeling on the day; he was unable to pay back the strong work by the team since a mistake cost him dearly and he was unable to match his strong fourth place finish of last year.


“This race is always stressful and so many bad roads and everyone is always waiting for the last climb," Mollema said. "This new climb made it harder in the final, and I liked it. Fabio [Felline] did such a great job to bring me in perfect position for the second to last climb - and also again for the last climb - but then I screwed it up on the bottom. I got caught behind the guys from the break going backwards and I wanted to pass on the right, but it wasn’t possible, and I had to brake and I lost maybe 30 places there. It was my mistake.


“I had good legs, and in this race it is so important to have a good position in the last 500 meters, and yeah, [on the Côte de Cherave] is where it went wrong today. But the good thing is I felt better than I did in Amstel Gold Race, so for Sunday I hope to make it up for this week.”


Trek Factory Racing next lines up Sunday for the fourth Monument, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and director Kim Andersen pulled no punches in explaining the team needs something more than what they achieved today:


“Bauke was in good place at the end, but again the result was not what we expected. Overall, the team was better today, but we need to make something more for Sunday. In the end there were so many crashes, and many at the front, and it’s hard to understand why: it was good weather, good roads, there is no reason really. I guess so many want to be in the front and are willing to take too many risks. It’s unbelievable. Thankfully both Arredondo and Jungels are okay and will be ready to go again Sunday.”



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