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“I felt I was the strongest in the climb and honestly after the 6th or 7th time attacking I also got tired. Fourth is not a bad place. Overall, it was fun, and really good to see the team riding as they did," Schleck says

Photo: Sirotti








31.03.2014 @ 22:49 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Frank Schleck animated the finale of yesterday's queen stage of Criterium International but his repeated attacks were not enough to get rid of Rafal Majka, Jean-Christophe Peraud, and Mathias Frank. In the end he had to settle for fourth on the stage but felt that he was the strongest climber in the race.


The team plan was simple: get Fränk Schleck to the final 14-kilometer climb as fresh as possible, and go for the win. The tactics played out as planned, and the team worked cohesively all race to position Fränk Schleck perfectly for the start of the mountaintop finish.


“It was good to see the team work the plan so well,” said director Kim Andersen. “Everyone followed the plan 100% that we talked about this morning.  Matthew Busche was fantastic - very, very strong on the climb.  Andy [Schleck] did a very good pull on a climb early on, to break things up. Everyone did the job they should today.”


On the final climb Matthew Busche paced the leading group as Bob Jungels and Fränk Schleck sat in behind. With six kilometers to go he pulled over, his job done, and the attacks started immediately, exploding the front group. Four riders emerged at the front, including Fränk Schleck, who launched attack after attack trying to shake free of the other three.


“I felt I was the strongest in the climb and honestly after the 6th or 7th time attacking I also got tired,” explained Fränk Schleck. “Fourth is not a bad place. Overall, it was fun, and really good to see the team riding as they did.”


As the road flattened out in the last kilometer it would be Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) that jumped hard, creating a gap that he held to the finish. Finishing in second place just behind Frank was Jean-Cristophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale), enough to give him the overall victory by one second over Frank. 


Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura) placed third at two seconds, also taking third in the overall, while Fränk Schleck was fourth at three seconds and moved into sixth place GC.


“We wanted to do something special today, “continued Fränk Schleck. “The boys told me, ‘you are going to win on Sunday, we race for you, and then you can take that present home to the family’.  So we had a plan for that, and I had the confidence to pull that off. We have a young team, and they worked the plan very well.  We did everything possible, and for me it was a lot like Paris-Nice. I attacked many times, but the climb was not quite hard enough in the end.”


Just after Fränk Schleck had arrived in Corsica he received the news Friday morning of the birth of his daughter.


He added: “Now I am looking forward to traveling home to see my new, little baby girl. The team gave me the option to return home but I chose to stay and do the race. I had a great opportunity today and just missed it.  The pressure was big today, and I am confident about my shape. And Bob [Jungels] was great today. There is definitely a lot more to come from him.”


Trek Factory Racing wrapped up Critérium International with two in the top 10 as Bob Jungels finished in ninth place overall.


Kim Andersen summed up the final stage, and despite the team missing out on a podium, he was content with how the day unfolded.


“We were going for the stage win today with Fränk. We made a tactic for that, and that went well, but unfortunately in the end three other riders could follow. In the last kilometer it flattened out and it was not looking good that Fränk did not get away. We know if it comes to a sprint it’s not something he will win.


“Sure we wanted to win, Fränk wanted to win, but it is promising to see that all our hard work pays off. One day it will be there; you need to try many times, and one day it will work out. But overall to see this teamwork today was super nice. We did a very, very nice race and it was fun to be in the car and follow today.”



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