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"Until 25 kilometres from the finish I still believed in it. Not much later I had no energy left, although I had eaten and taken sufficient fluids. It was a long time ago since I had done such an effort."

Photo: Lotto Soudal

GENT-WEVELGEM

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JURGEN ROELANDTS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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29.03.2015 @ 22:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Epic, that’s how you can call the 77th edition of Ghent-Wevelgem. A strong wind literally blew riders off their bikes and in the first half of the race there were heavy showers as well. Jürgen Roelandts made a strong impression by riding almost sixty kilometres alone in front. A chase group with teammate Jens Debusschere reeled him in with 17.7 kilometres to go. Roelandts eventually crossed the finish line as seventh. Debusschere was fifth today. Luca Paolini won the race.

 

Already after a few kilometres the peloton was split in three. The circumstances didn’t seem to scare off seven riders who decided to set up a breakaway. They had a maximal lead of almost nine minutes. The effect of the wind was even bigger at the Moeren, there were echelons as far as you could look. Debusschere, Greipel, Roelandts and Sieberg were part of the first group that caught up with the leaders. That was at 130 kilometres from the end. Thirty kilometres further Maarten Tjallingii thought it was his time to attack. After the first ascent of the Kemmelberg Jürgen Roelandts accompanied him. The Lotto Soudal rider soon went solo.

 

 

When Roelandts got alone in front he still had 75 kilometres to cover. The chase group consisted of five riders: teammate Debusschere, Oss, Thomas, Vanmarcke and Vandenbergh. Later Paolini and Terpstra would join them. For a long time things were going great for Jürgen Roelandts. He had a stable advantage on the chasers of two minutes. The peloton didn’t play a role anymore.

 

After the second ascent of the Kemmelberg the lead of Roelandts decreased to one and a half minutes and it continued going down. 17.7 kilometres from the end his solo adventure came to an end. Roelandts made a strong impression just one week before the Tour of Flanders. Several attacks followed. Luca Paolini became the winner and arrived solo in Wevelgem. Terpstra beat Thomas in the sprint for the second place. Debusschere was fifth at 26 seconds. One and a half minutes later Roelandts finished on place seven.

 

“The weather didn’t scare me today, it was as forecasted," Roelandts said. "Although I have to say I can’t remember it was ever so bad in a race. We had to be very attentive because of the echelons. I felt really good today and after the first ascent of the Kemmelberg I closed the gap on Tjallingii. Not much later I rode alone in front. I had hoped more riders would follow me. For a while I thought about holding back, but eventually I continued. I wanted to make something of this race. If I had one other man with me, this could have worked. Now it was one against four and then one against six.

 

“I hoped to benefit from the tailwind in the last part of the race, but in Ypres I got tired. Until 25 kilometres from the finish I still believed in it. Not much later I had no energy left, although I had eaten and taken sufficient fluids. It was a long time ago since I had done such an effort. If I had pulled this off it would have been a crazy performance. Now I’ll focus on my recuperation for the Tour of Flanders.”

 

“I come from Dadizele and know the area very well," Debusschere said. "It was really important to get a good position today, it helped that I knew the route. First I could tag along with the favourites, although I didn’t feel great. Of course I didn’t have to help in the chase. I could keep calm and wait how the story would develop. In the final I couldn’t follow the best anymore. Together with Vanmarcke I closed the gap on Terpstra, Thomas, Paolini and Vandenbergh, but then it was over for me. It was a strong performance of Jürgen today, he showed sense of initiative. We both end up in top ten, but we miss the icing on the cake.”

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