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“When they didn’t pass me, I realised that everyone was suffering. They were all suffering maybe more than I was. I was able to finish off the sprint, but it hurt a lot more than yesterday," Keukeleire says

Photo: Sirotti

JENS KEUKELEIRE

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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VUELTA A BURGOS 

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09.08.2013 @ 23:22 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) has been a roll ever since announcing his contract extension with his Australian team. Today he took his second consecutive win in the Vuelta a Burgos in a tough uphill finish and the Belgian confirmed that today's finale had been much tougher than the one that had allowed him to take the first win.

 

Orica-GreenEdge won't regret their decision to extend the contract with Jens Keukeleire as the Belgian had proved his worth with two consecutive wins in the Vuelta a Burgos. In another uphill sprint, Keukeleire powered clear of his rivals and no one had the power to come around him.

 

“This second win is really special,” Keukeleire said. “I’ve never won two races in one tour before. To do it now, and to finish off the work the boys did, is just amazing. I’m really happy at the moment. I hope I can keep this form until the end of the season.”

 

Yesterday's stage had been almost completely flat and the rise to the finish a gentle one. Today's stage was up and down all day and the uphill finish was a really tough one. Nonetheless, Keukeleire managed to prevail in a finish that some may have thought would have been too tough for the classics specialist.

 

“Overall, today was harder than yesterday,” he explained. “There was a lot more up and down the whole day, and the stage was longer. There were several places where the road narrowed, so it was quite important to stay in good position all day. The team did a great job keeping me in the first half of the peloton all day.”

 

Keukeleire himself had also thought that the finish could be too difficult for him. Hence, he was pleasantly surprised when he first passed the finish line with 23km to go.

 

“We passed the finish line once, so I had a good look at it,” he said. “It was less hard than I had expected. I was pretty confident I could do something. The boys began to ask how I was feeling, and I confirmed I was up for the sprint.”

 

Once again Keukeleire got great team support and the Australian squad was in control of the peloton when they hit the final climb. The stage winner had special praise for one of his teammates.

 

“The team was very good when the attacks began,” he said. “They kept me in a good position, and everyone stayed calm. I especially want to give a lot of thanks to Mitch [Docker]. He was right in front of me and closed down every gap. Every moment, I thought ‘Ok, now he is going to swing off’ but a kilometre later he would still be there. He did a little lead-out to drop me off at the bottom of the climb to the finish.”

 

FDJ.fr rider Benoit Vaugrenard led the peloton all the way up the climb with race leader Athony Roux in his wheel. Keukeleire was just behind the Frenchman where he stayed calm until he finally kicked with 300m to go.

 

“Yesterday, there were attacks in the finish, and I was following moves,” Keukeleire said. “Today it was different. There was just one sprint. I was in third position when I stood up to begin my sprint. I was maybe at 300 metres, and I was thinking there was no way I was going to make it.”

 

“When they didn’t pass me, I realised that everyone was suffering,” he added. “They were all suffering maybe more than I was. I was able to finish off the sprint, but it hurt a lot more than yesterday.”

 

Sports director Neil Stephens was equally pleased.

 

“The team was calm, cool and collected in the final,” he said. “FDJ did a really good job looking out for their leader, but we played the finish perfectly. Jens hit them hard at 200 metres. He had to fight for it today. It wasn’t like yesterday where they finished off his wheel. It was still a bloody top win for him and the team!”

 

For Keukeleire, the Vuelta a Burgos was mere preparation for his home race, Eneco Tour, which starts on Monday. The Belgian won't start the stage tomorrow as he will head home to rest up for the event in which he wore the leader's jersey last year.

 

“It was always the plan that I might only race three stages of Burgos,” he explained. “I’ll have a little bit of recovery at home before Eneco. The race next week is another important target for me.”

 

Instead, the team is likely to support Leigh Howard in tomorrow's stage which is the only one for the pure sprinters. Starting at 15.30 you can follow that stage on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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