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"I was further back and I could brake in time to avoid it, Fabio [Felline] too. But we had to spend a lot of energy to come back because we had to close a gap of about 30 seconds on the Redoute."

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FRANK SCHLECK

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26.04.2015 @ 21:22 Posted by Andy Pedersen

The Ardennes Classics ended today with La Doyenne once again giving an exhilarating conclusion, but missing from the day's final fireworks were any pinstripes after a large crash with 40 kilometers to go drastically changed their game plan.

 

Bob Jungels and Fränk Schleck both were caught up in the crash, eliminating two of the Trek Factory Racing’s strongest riders right at the moment when the biggest action was beginning.  Fabio Felline and Bauke Mollema avoided the melee, but both were forced to a stop and a difficult chase ensued.

 

Although Mollema regained contact to the front of the race the effort ultimately cost him.

 

“I think everything changed with the big crash with 40k to go, more or less. We lost Bob [Jungels] and Fränk [Schleck] to that. I was further back and I could brake in time to avoid it, Fabio [Felline] too. But we had to spend a lot of energy to come back because we had to close a gap of about 30 seconds on the Redoute. I came back to the front, but from the point on I was alone. I tried. I tried what I could, but in the end the legs were not good enough,” Mollema said to TFR.com

 

In the final 15 kilometers, the race’s favorites began to launch dangerous moves and Mollema covered what he could.  But in reality, it was the beginning of the end. On the final rated climb, the Côte de Saint-Nicolas, he lost contact for good and rolled in alone for a disappointing 35th place. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) played a patient game on the final ascent to the line to win the fourth Monument and final spring Classic.

 

“Time for a rest next week and to recover well from this, I hope,” added Mollema. “The week did not go as we hoped, but now time to rest and train hard for the next goals. Time to keep looking forward.”

 

Before the race-altering crash, Julian Arredondo was showing his usual spunk as he jumped up to a small breakaway with just over 70 kilometers remaining. Arredondo was also active in the race’s early beginnings as he briefly was off the front, but the peloton reeled in his breakaway’s attempt before allowing an eight-man break to go clear a few kilometers later.

 

It was a great display of teamwork until Fränk Schleck’s and Bob Jungels’ race ended with the crash that split the peloton, a huge loss for the team.  

 

“I don’t really know how the crash happened; for 99% of all crashes it’s not normally your own fault, and this was the same. They all went down in front of me, it was a big crash, and I think Bauke and Felline did not go down but had to stop. Bob and myself crashed, and at this stage of the race it was finished for us. All the guys who crashed did not make it back to the front as far as I know,” Fränk Schleck said.

 

“I hope everything is okay after the crash. I have some knee pain but hopefully tomorrow it will be good, and next week I have a little break so that will help. It was not a super week for the team, but we have to keep our heads high and keep fighting.”

 

Trek Factory Racing’s General Manager Luca Guercilena philosophized this past week, one where the team came away empty-handed despite lining up a strong squad that has already attained some solid results this season:                          

 

“We had high expectations for the Ardennes, but the races did not go as we wanted for many reasons. Again today we wanted to be really competitive but again a crash put four of our guys behind. Obviously, this is not an excuse, but it was something we had to deal with today, and it changed our race. Now we have to take a deep breath. New goals are coming and we need to focus on that and answer with the pedals. There are not a lot of words to say, but just working hard and be ready. That’s all.”

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