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"Still, at the top of the last climbs I was leading, and I knew that I still had the legs. But we never were able to catch back the two leaders. Third is good, it is still a podium, but it’s frustrating to be so close.”

Photo: Sirotti








28.02.2015 @ 21:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The hilly 200-kilometer Classic Sud-Ardèche culminated on three tough circuits containing two leg-breaking climbs for each of the 23-kilometer laps.


On the penultimate lap a 15-man group wrestled free from the peloton on the longer of the two climbs and never looked back. 


Trek Factory Racing was content with the escape, as the fast legs of an on-form Fabio Felline had joined the late move. All appeared to be playing to the tune of the pinstriped team.


However, in the end tactics ruled and two men contested the win as Fabio Felline led home the rest of the group and settled with third.


“I am not super happy, third is a good result, but today I started with the idea to win. It was difficult because in the last part it was a game of roulette; sometimes you have to be lucky in this situation, and today I was not super lucky,” explained Felline about the tactical ending to a hard race.


“There was nothing I could have done differently,” he continued. “I am not a real climber so I went with my own rhythm in the climb.  Still, at the top of the last climbs I was leading, and I knew that I still had the legs. But we never were able to catch back the two leaders. Third is good, it is still a podium, but it’s frustrating to be so close.”


The day began with the usual breakaway making its bid for glory as six men animated the action until the final 40 or so kilometers.  Once they were safely returned to the fold, the real players came to the fore – those who had been hiding, waiting and carefully doted on by supporting teammates until the decisive moment arose.



That moment initiated over the top of the steep, narrow Sampzon climb and an attentive Fabio Felline sensed it was the pivotal move and quickly jumped across to form 15 leaders.


With plenty of race left the group hovered at 30 seconds while a counter-attack from the peloton formed a five-man pursuit that included Trek Factory Racing’s Calvin Watson.


Although the five were never able to latch onto the 15 men and were ultimately swallowed back by the peloton on the final lap, Calvin Watson earned a trip to the podium as best young rider as he capped off a superb day with a 27th place.    


"We had a very strong team today, with six guys who could play for the win in the final lap," Watson told Directvelo. "Unfortunately, Fabio (Felline) has not made ​​it onto the right wheel in the final. He still did a great job. I think that to have five riders in the Top 20 is a very good performance. 


"Tomorrow we will again aim to win. With a team like this, there is no reason to aim for anything other than victory. We already have had many good results this year, with many podiums. Hopefully it can continue again tomorrow. I do not necessarily have big personal ambitions for the moment, I am still very young. I will contest my first Grand Tour in May with the Giro. It will be a great experience. "


Ahead, the 15 men – now with a comfortable 90-second lead - began a tactical game that played out to the finish.


On the ultimate ascent of the punishing Sampzon climb with 17 kilometers to go two men attacked, and with the disorganization raging high in the remaining 13 men, they arrived to the final kilometer with enough time to contest the victory.



Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) outlasted Julien Loubet (Marseille 13-KTM) by three seconds to take the win while Fabio Felline led home the remaining riders seven seconds later and easily sprinted to the final podium spot.


“I saw that the other teams were not organized when the break went on the climb. I knew it was a good moment to go; that idea was good, the finale was not perfect, but my intuition was right,” explained Felline about the key moment in the race.


"I knew I was the fastest rider in the chase group. I told myself that I should just stay on their wheels to try to beat everyone in the home straight. I felt very well even on the climbs. On the last climb, I maybe had the legs to try something, but I preferred to stay in the wheels, to not take risks, hoping that other riders would make the effort to catch the two leading riders. Unfortunately, nobody was able to bridge the gap. So I had to settle for third place behind the two escapees. I was too isolated in the final, although my teammates did a great job all day. That's racing. It's still a good result for me.


“I am also happy for the team; we worked together super well all day long and the others gave everything to support me, Jasper [Stuyven] and Bauke [Mollema]. It is just unfortunate I could not return them with a win.”



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