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"The race developed in our favor. Then it was still exciting on the five climbs of the Pabeierberg, with attacks from Gilbert and number four in the rankings, Alex Kirsch, but I could always respond. We have never been i...

Photo: Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick

TOUR DE LUXEMBOURG

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
05.06.2016 @ 21:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) continued his successful return to racing by taking his second win in three days on the final stage of the Tour de Luxembourg. The Belgian came around race leader Maurits Lammertink (Roompot) in the uphill sprint on the Plabeierberg in the capital of Luxembourg to take the stage victory but the positions were reversed in the overall standings as Lammertink won the race, with Gilbert and Alex Kirsch (Stölting) completing the podium.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Triumphant Maurits Lammertink: I was never in panic

Maurits Lammertink has added the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg to his palmares. The rider of Roompot - Orange Peloton retained his lead in the final stage of the five-day stage race by taking second in the final stage behind Gilbert.

 

Gilbert started the final stage 12 seconds behind the 25-year-old Dutchman. After a long break of five, including André Greipel and Preben Van Hecke, team manager Jean-Paul van Poppel’s riders closed the gap in the last twenty kilometers. 

 

"The race developed in our favor. Then it was still exciting on the five climbs of the Pabeierberg, with attacks from Gilbert and number four in the rankings, Alex Kirsch, but I could always respond. We have never been in panic," said Lammertink.

 

After his second place in the prologue, Lammertink took the leader's jersey on Friday. In the stage to Schifflange, he finished second behind Philippe Gilbert. 

 

"After two days, the team worked hard to keep the yellow jersey in the team," Van Poppel praised the work ethic of his riders. "Especially on Saturday, they delivered a performance at a high level when we had to respond to the attacks. Maurit’s win does not surprise me, we knew he had this in him. It is nice that it comes out!"

 

Thanks to the work of his teammates, Lammertink lost no time to his rivals on Saturday in the stage won by Anthony Turgis (Cofidis). And on Sunday he kept his position. 

 

"It is a shame that Gilbert was a class better. After two previous second places, I would have liked to have won the stage. But I'm obviously happy with the victory." 

 

Huub Duijn finished a fine fifth in the final stage and was eighth overall.

 

Last year Maurits Lammertink took the first victory ever for Roompot in a stage of the Tour de Limousin. His name is now added to an impressive list of Dutch winners in Luxembourg which began in 1964 with Arie den Hartog. Current team manager Michel Cornelisse was the best in 1989 and Joost Posthuma was the last Dutchman to win in 2008. After winning the Ronde van Drenthe (Jesper Asselman) and a stage and the overall classification at the Tour of Norway (Pieter Weening), the Dutch Pro Continental team has four wins this season.

 

Philippe Gilbert: Everybody told me that this was a finish for me

It was victory number two for Philippe Gilbert in Luxembourg as he won the bunch sprint for the line on the fourth and final stage of the ŠkodaTour de Luxembourg.

 

Eventually, with the main bunch all together for the final finishing lap, the stage came down to a sprint for the line with Gilbert proving he was the strongest on the day. There was also a podium finish for BMC Racing Team’s Dylan Teuns as he put in a strong ride to cross the line third. 

 

Today’s victory sealed Gilbert’s position at the top of the Points Classification and saw him move into second place on the General Classification, , behind Maurits Lammertink (Roompot - Oranje Peloton).

 

“I feel great! It’s been a successful day for me; winning today’s stage, moving into second on the GC and winning the points classification,” Gilbert said.

 

“I was really only thinking about the stage today and not the classification. I stayed really focussed throughout the whole stage and then when we hit the final 5.5km final lap, I never moved out of the first top ten positions. It was a very tricky lap and I started the last climb strong but I knew that I needed to wait for the final hundred meters to make my effort because it was really steep at the end.

 

“I was definitely hoping that I would win today’s stage. All the guys who had raced here before said that this was a finish for me, so that gave me added motivation to do well going into the stage.

 

"I have two days rest and then I am heading to Tour de Suisse. After this race I definitely think that I am in good form so we will see what I can do there.

 

"I started this Tour of Luxembourg with questions. I had trained a lot and felt good in training, but a race is something completely different

 

"Winning two stages at a comeback was fantastic. I end with a feeling of satisfaction.

 

"After Switzerland, we have the Belgian Championships at Les Lacs de l'Eau d'Heure on a course that suits me.”

 

Sport director Jackson Stewart said: 

 

“It’s always great to see the riders win stages and we knew it would be a good stage for Phil today. Not only was he able to win but he also took maximum time bonuses and moved back up into second place on the GC. One of the other highlights from today was that Dylan [Teuns] finished third and it’s really good to see some of our younger riders getting results.

 

“I think over the past 5 days we have had some of the worst things that can happen in a race, with a crash taking out the leader’s jersey and sickness with [Tom] Bohli, but we’ve also had some of the best things, like winning three out of the five stages and finishing with a good place on the GC.”

 

Alex Kirsch achieves best ever result with overall podium in Luxembourg

Ahead of the final stage of the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg (2.HC) Alex Kirsch was fourth overall in the same time as third-placed Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team). With a strong team effort and his own attentive riding in the final, Kirsch could make up a few seconds and finished his home race on the podium.

 

The 178.2 km stage from Mersch to Luxembourg started with a bonus sprint after only 3.8 km. Team Stölting Service Group took control of the affairs and gave a perfect lead-out to Kirsch who could secure three bonus seconds.

 

After that, a group of five riders got away and built an advantage of eight minutes until Team Stölting Service Group and Roompot – Oranje Peloton, the team of overall leader Maurits Lammertink, took up the chase. At the start of the four laps of the 5.5 km finishing circuit the peloton was less than a minute behind.

 

The stage finish was at the top of the 825 m Pabeierbierg that had to be climbed five times in total. Its average gradient of more than 9% quickly made the peloton break up into small groups; Kirsch was always at the front, rode with his head and even put in a few attacks. In the end the stage was decided on the final climb, though. Kirsch finished in sixth place three seconds later, due to his bonus seconds he moved up to third place overall.

 

After the race, Kirsch described the all-important intermediate sprint:

 

“I had the same time as the third-placed and was only one second ahead of the sixth and seventh. With the first sprint after only three kilometres, you have to go for it, otherwise someone else will. Our team did a good job, leading me out perfectly with the whole team, and I could take the three seconds. In the end, my advantage on fourth place overall is exactly three seconds – so this sprint turned out to be very important.”

 

“The finishing circuit is known to be very, very selective,” continued Alex. “As soon as you’re on the circuit, the peloton is down to the strongest riders. My attacks weren’t for the race overall or the stage win; I simply didn’t want to lose control of the race. Everyone does the climb at 100%, and I quickly realised that I was one of the best today. So I didn’t want to get into a position where I’d have to close a gap. It was very likely that we would go into the final climb in a small group, so I never went all-out on the attacks, but focused on the last lap.”

 

This third place overall at the Tour de Luxembourg is the best result in his career so far:

 

“It’s incredible,” he said. “I’ve never had a result that would be close to this, and of course the Tour de Luxembourg was a big goal for me. I’ve trained incredibly hard in the last seven weeks where I only had one race; I almost can’t describe how hard I trained. I’m very happy that it paid off like this. It’s a success for the whole team – if they hadn’t prepared the intermediate sprint for me, I would have been fourth despite my good performance today. I really can’t praise my team enough.”

 

Christopher Juul-Jensen in the top 5 at tough Tour de Luxembourg

Danish rider Chris Juul-Jensen concludes the Tour de Luxembourg in fifth place overall for ORICA-GreenEDGE after placing eighth on the final stage.

 

The stage finished at the top of a short sharp climb were Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) claimed his second stage victory of the week, with Juul-Jensen finishing strongly in eighth place to secure fifth on the general classification in what was ORICA-GreenEDGE's debut of the race.    

 

The Australian outfit headed into the five day tour with ambitions of a stage victory and although the team missed out on the top result, sport director Matt Wilsonwas pleased with how the team performed throughout the week.

 

"The guys rode phenomenally today," Wilson explained after the stage. "We didn't have anything to lose today so we really threw it all on the line to try and have a good day and create an opportunity.

 

"The guys rode for around 60kilometres in an attempt to bring back the breakaway before the finishing circuits. Half of the team rode full gas just to open up the possibility and see if we could do something in the final.

 

"I can't fault their commitment. To commit to a plan that was a bit of a long shot, no-one questioned it, everyone gave everything.

 

"Chris had a great race to finish were he did, the race wasn't really suited to him to be honest, with these stages and with a short time trial so he did a really great job in the end.

 

"It was a great effort this week, the whole team raced well and the form looks great for everyone moving forward into our next races."

 

Dion Smith proves his class for ONE Pro Cycling in Luxembourg

As the peloton cruised through kilometre 80, ONE DS made a call for Marcin ‘The Machine’ Bialoblocki and John Ebsen to the front to ride with the aim of closing down the gap knocking 40 seconds off the gap almost straight away.

 

ONE Pro Cycling kept control of the peloton while Orica Greenedge sent up a rider to help close the gap to the leaders. Working well together the two members of ONE Pro rode the 8 minute 20 gap back to just 10 seconds, leading the bunch onto the finishing circuit after 154km. Martin Mortensen and Matthew Goss led the team into the climb, hitting it hard and splitting the bunch to pieces.

 

Coming into the final three laps, Dion Smith, Hayden McCormick, James Oram and Steele Von Hoff were positioned nicely in the front group of approximately 20 riders. The pace around the circuit intensified as the main group fought for position on the final lap, preparing themselves for the final effort up the steep climb to the finish line.

 

The aim was to deliver Dion Smith into the bottom of the final climb and position him in the best possible place for the sprint to the line but Oram and McCormick found themselves gapped while Smith worked his way up the ascent in the company of Philippe Gilbert (BMC).

 

Gilbert put in an attack over the climb, which paid off and saw the BMC rider take his second victory of the tour. Smith put in a massive effort over the top, giving it everything and picking off riders on his way to the line to claim 7th on the stage, leaving him 11th overall on GC.

 

Tosh van der Sande again in the top 10 in Luxembourg

Tosh van der Sande was again the best Lotto Soudal rider in 9th.

 

“9th @skodatour last stage ! Pff... tough local lap, but congratz @PhilippeGilbert he does it again as usual on a finish like this #12th #gc,” he tweeted after the stage.

 

Final climbs in Luxembourg too short for Mathias Frank

Rubens Bertogliati, who acted as the directeur sportif for IAM along with Thierry Marichal at this race, declared himself satisfied with the performance of his riders at the end of the final stage. 

 

“Overall, I am satisfied with how our riders performed,” Bertogliati explained.  “The first two stages were not necessarily suited to our strengths, but the team was able to show itself well in the third and fourth stages.  Yesterday we were represented by Brändle in a long breakaway, and then on top of that, we had Mathias Frank finishing in a morale-boosting third place which will top-up his confidence ahead of the Tour of Switzerland.  Today’s final circuit had a climb that was a little too short for Frank, and therefore was a bit more suited to the classics specialists.  But we have seen a very good performance from the team, and the boys cultivated a great atmosphere.” 

 

At the end of the day, the stage victory went to Belgian Philippe Gilbert, who was able to grab his second stage at this year’s Skoda Tour of Luxembourg.  Oliver Zaugg finished the stage as the best placed rider for IAM Cycling in 13th just a handful of seconds behind the winner.

 

After Matthias Brändle spent yesterday in the breakaway, today it was teammate Pirmin Lang who had the duties off the front.  He and four other riders managed to get away from the peloton after just 10 kilometers of racing.  Their lead ballooned out to a maximum of eight minutes at one point.  The quintet ended up spending almost 150 kilometers at the front of the race before the main group pulled them back in the middle of the difficult final circuit with around 18 kilometers to go. 

 

“We were tasked with the job of getting someone in the main breakaway,” Pirmin Lang explained.  “After trying yesterday for over 50 kilometers to get in the break, it worked out a little faster today.  Unfortunately, in contrast to yesterday’s stage, I didn’t have the best of legs, so I was missing some strength that I would have liked to have on the final circuit.  And considering the amount of time we had gained while in the lead, I did harbor some hope that we could take it all the way to the finish.  But the main field, especially Orica GreenEdge and One Pro Cycling, did their best to track us down, which caused the lead to dwindle quickly.  Now I will head off to race at the GP Gippingen, which takes place quite close to my home.  I am naturally very much looking forward to that event.”

 

While a portion of the IAM Cycling team kicked off the Critérium du Dauphiné in France today, on Thursday another group from the team will be racing the GP Gippingen in the Swiss canton of Aargau before starting the Tour of Switzerland next Saturday, which will be one of the team’s major goals for the season.

 

Difficult Tour de Luxembourg for small Tinkoff team

On an undulating course that ended with a 9% climb to the finish, the Tinkoff riders came out of the race having taken an opportunity to build their form for the coming races in the season.

 

After making a positive return to racing after his crash earlier in the season, the decision was made to withdraw Maciej Bodnar from the race to support his recovery further, and so Tinkoff started the day with three riders.

 

From the finish, Sport Director, Lars Michaelsen, looked back on how the stage developed.

 

“Today a breakaway of five got out and had eight minutes at the most at one point. The GC teams were fighting to bring it back behind - it all came back at the end.”

 

With 30km to go to the end of the stage, the escapees had a little over three minutes on the peloton, and this gap was falling quickly, dropping to just a minute as the race reached the finishing circuit. After a day riding at a breakneck pace and with some testing climbs along the way, the pace was just too high for some of the team, as Michaelsen explained.

 

“With points of the climb at over 14% it proved a bit too much for our guys on the first lap of the finishing circuit, and so Trusov was the last rider left.”

 

With the punchers again massing for the last push to the finish, the pace crept up even more. With rain now falling on the finishing circuit, Nikolay Trusov came over the line on his own, as the peloton had disintegrated under the strain of the puncheurs’ final attacks before the finish, with much of the rest of the bunch still to come in afterwards. Michaelsen saw the race as good preparation for the coming races.

 

“It was a good race for some of the guys to continue building their form and now we look ahead to the coming races.”

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