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"I think it was a mistake to let Dombrowski go, and I think that I should have gone all-in for three or four kilometers more. I think then I could have been second."

Photo: Sirotti

FRANK SCHLECK

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TOUR OF UTAH

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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09.08.2015 @ 05:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The Tour of Utah headed into the Wasatch Mountains Saturday for the queen stage, giving a showdown on the final 13-kilometer climb to Snowbird Resort where Fränk Schleck arrived with three others – including the yellow jersey of Michael Woods (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) – and sprinted to fourth to move him into third place overall.

 

Over a minute ahead of the quartet, Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) soloed across the line taking an impressive win and with it the yellow jersey.

 

“It was a very hard day, more than five hours on the saddle; a very tough day so finishing fourth is good,” said Schleck, and then added, “I do have very mixed feelings about it because tactic-wise I didn’t play the right card. However, clearly Joe Dombrowski was the strongest.

 

“I think I should have been second, though, and I didn’t play the right card and that’s it. But that said, I am quite happy with it.”

 

The fireworks began in the 177.7-kilometer stage six on the penultimate steep Guardsman Pass (11-kms at 7%, max 13%), which carved the peloton to 30 riders by the top, while the 12-man breakaway that led from the early part of the race was whittled down to three.

 

On the final ascent to Snowbird Resort, the three leaders were quickly within sight as Team Colombia set a grueling pace on the front.

 

Dombrowski made his move just as the trio was about to be absorbed with over seven kilometers remaining, shattering the chase group.

Schleck was the only rider initially able to hang with the young American’s pace until he too eased from Dombrowski’s wheel.

 

In hindsight, explained Schleck, it was not the correct decision.

 

In the chess game of cycling choices are often made under extreme duress and punishing circumstances; add to that mix racing in the thin, oxygen-deprived air of altitude and the game changes even more. It was a tactic made in the heat of battle.

 

Schleck described the moment: “When Dombrowski jumped at first I didn’t know what he was doing, and I thought, ‘okay where is he going to go?’ until I realized he had his teammate Ben King ahead in the breakaway. He jumped to King who was waiting for him, and then King went full gas.

 

"Then I had to make the effort, all-in, just to catch these two guys and that’s where he put me in the red zone.  King pulled off and Joe went again, and knowing the effort to come back -  and I also thought there was no stress at that moment -  so I told myself to just do my own tempo also knowing that the yellow jersey was just behind with Horner, so I let Joe go.

 

"I think it was a mistake to let Dombrowski go, and I think that I should have gone all-in for three or four kilometers more. I think then I could have been second.

 

“When you are suffering and the knife is to your throat, it’s a decision you make in a half second. But I believe I could have suffered more. My decision was made knowing there was still seven kilometers to go and the yellow jersey was just behind - normally this group could pull it back and today this was not the case.”

 

Dombrowski pulled away, increasing his lead all the way to the line, while Chris Horner (Airgas Safeway), Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) and the yellow jersey joined Schleck. They never gained ground to the Cannondale-Garmin rider and arrived 1 minute and 17 seconds in arrears for a four-up sprint.

 

With one tough climbing day remaining Sunday, Dombrowski leads with a comfortable 50 seconds over Woods, and one minute and seven seconds ahead of Schleck.

 

“It was the plan from the start of the week - we knew that this climb would make the GC, and even though we know Fränk is not 100% with his problem with the saddle-sore he showed today he has good legs,” added director Alain Gallopin.

 

“During the day we helped in the chase, I put Fabio Silvestre to pull and this was the first time we have done something in the race because today we knew we could do something at the end. We also only have five riders here, and two young guys, so we don’t have the luxury of expending more.

 

“Julien [Bernard] did a nice climb over Guardsman, he was the last rider to lose contact that didn’t come back. And Leonardo [Basso] took it easy because he’s a young guy and he has been full-gas everyday.

 

“Dombrowski looks strong and for Fränk he is now third GC and I think that is good for him. Now tomorrow we will try and keep Fränk on the podium.”

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