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"All the strong teams like Lotto (Soudal), FDJ and us tried to split the bunch in the winds, but in the end it was all-together for the uphill finish. I am feeling good and I have high expectations for tomorrow. I guess it’s time...

Photo: Sirotti

BOB JUNGELS

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ETOILE DE BESSÈGES

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FABIO FELLINE

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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07.02.2015 @ 20:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The final road stage of the Etoile de Bessèges from L'Ardoise to Laudun ended with an intact peloton rushing into the final kilometer to tackle the uphill finish.  The mur de Laudun (Laudun wall) was not long, around 700 meters in length, but contained a steep section of 300 meters, enough to curb many fast legs.

 

It was the type of finish fitted to the strengths of Fabio Felline, and Trek Factory Racing battled Lotto-Soudal for supremacy to the final turn before the uphill pitch to the line.

 

In the end, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) won the fight, eking out the win, and Felline crossed in fourth place, just missing the top three.

 

“The climb was really steep for 300 to 400 meters and my mistake was that I was not more in the front coming into the last turn,” explained Felline. “Lotto (Soudal) organized a very good train, which made it difficult. I am sorry that I missed out in taking a better result because the team worked so well, but it was like this.

 

“But once again the team was in the front, we have been in the top four in each stage, and this was important. It gives me some confidence, and the also the team. Now we will see tomorrow if it’s possible to win the GC and that would be a big reward for all our hard work this week.”

 

“Team Lotto (Soudal) was very strong and they did a perfect lead-out for my nephew,”agreed director Alain Gallopin. “Fabio was 9th in the last turn, and 4th in the finish, so it could have been better with better positioning. But anyway, we keep our main focus, and that is with Bob in the TT tomorrow. If he wins the TT, normally he will win the overall also. Bob is very confident for tomorrow. We will see.”

 

Tony Gallopin claimed a 10 second time bonus with his win, launching him ahead of Bob Jungels in the GC, but Alain Gallopin shrugged off the small deficit.

 

“Tony is a classy guy and he can be good in the TT, but normally 10 seconds for Bob will be okay. But really tomorrow we will find out. Tony won today, and now I want us to win tomorrow,” Gallopin replied. “I can say Bob is very confident for tomorrow, and I am also confident, because I saw what Bob did at the Mallorca camp.”

 

The 147-kilometer stage four began with an eight-man escape group saying adieu from the drop of the flag, and with the highest placed rider just over two minutes back in the overall classification, the peloton was content with the divorce.

 

But the escapees were kept on a short lead that hovered at two and half minutes for most of the day, dropping to the two-minute mark by the start of the four local 15.4-kilometer circuits.

 

The gap continued to fall under pressure from Lotto-Soudal, and in the final lap Trek Factory Racing grouped at the front to lend its power to the chase. Inside the final 10 kilometers all was one again, and the positional war raged to the bottom of the Laudun wall.

 

“The breakaway at the start was good, we didn’t need to panic and we could sit back and take a little more recovery today after three days where we worked a lot, “continued Gallopin. “Our focus today was to keep the situation of Bob the same because the final was dangerous for time gaps.”

 

It was critical for Jungels to be well placed for the tricky finish where time gaps could easily materialize, and in the end he finished in ninth place in the same time as Tony Gallopin. All ended well, but afterwards Jungels sheepishly admitted he made a small error in the finale:

 

“My positioning was good going into the last corner, but I made a little bit of an amateur mistake. I actually thought there was one more lap, and with 500m to go I asked another guy if it’s one more lap or if it finishes now. He told me it’s the finish! So then I tried to move up a little bit, but in the end it was the most important to not lose time, and that went okay.

 

Tomorrow the five-day race ends with an 11.9-kilometer time trial that will decide the final podium. Marco Coledan finished 25th today and still holds third overall (+13”). Although Bob Jungels dropped one spot to 19th (+30”) he is poised for a strong ride in the race against the clock, and is within striking distance of the overall victory.

 

“Today was another nervous stage with lots of wind,” Jungels said, happy to finish with a time trial tomorrow. “All the strong teams like Lotto (Soudal), FDJ and us tried to split the bunch in the winds, but in the end it was all-together for the uphill finish. I am feeling good and I have high expectations for tomorrow. I guess it’s time to rock n’ roll!”

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