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“It was hot, it was a good, hard stage. We had a tactic set out and the whole team carried that through.  We had three laps at the end and I attacked 4-5 times and every time I escaped,"

Photo: Sirotti






07.06.2014 @ 19:34 Posted by Andy Pedersen

The 205.8-kilometer third stage at the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg, the longest and most difficult of the five-day race, was a tepid affair for most of the undulating parcours until the ending local laps. Labeled the queen stage, all the action inaugurated on the final 9.4-kilometer circuit the peloton navigated three times.


It was here the early four-man escape group was defused, and it was here where Fränk Schleck attacked relentlessly from a vastly reduced peloton.


“It was hot, it was a good, hard stage. We had a tactic set out and the whole team carried that through.  We had three laps at the end and I attacked 4-5 times and every time I escaped, but they caught me back. The climb was not long enough.  No one wanted to go with me, and work with me. I think they were scared that on the last lap I would go again.  I think I showed good form, and I tried. I just need some luck to have the right consolation from the race,” said Fränk Schleck.


The Col de l’Europe (9% gradient) was the pinnacle peak of the circuit, and Fränk Schleck jumped clear on the steep slope each lap, only to be brought back shortly after the top every time. It was frustrating for the Luxembourger who was third in this stage in 2012 (and finished third overall) with a similar move, but was neutralized in all his attempts today.


A counter move to Fränk Schleck’s final fruitless attack the last time up the Col de l'Europe, only six kilometers from the finish, proved to be the one that stuck. Five riders slipped clear and stayed away to contest the win. Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) took the sprint, his second victory in as many days. He also overtook the race lead, knocking the previous yellow jersey of Jean-Pierre Drucker (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) to third.


“The last 50k when we were coming into the circuits Laurent [Didier], Andy [Schleck] and Gregy [Rast] set a very hard pace to hurt everyone’s legs. The first time up the climb on circuit I attacked. I was away on my own but I knew there was a headwind at the top and the peloton rode together and never split. The next lap I jumped to 2-3 other guys. Same scenario: they would not pull with me over the top and just sat in my wheel. So the peloton came back again. Third lap Laurent led me out, and I attacked again on my own. And same – peloton came back. Then the Matti group countered and got away. They were lucky to attack at the right moment and they stayed away,” said Fränk Schleck to the Trek webpage.


It was solid concerted team effort, and the pre-race plan was carried through flawlessly. But someone forget to tell the peloton to oblige. Fränk Schleck was a marked man, and despite being the principal player on the final circuits, he was a victim of tactics; all he could muster by the end was a 19th place (+18"). As so often happens in cycling, the strongest do not always win.


“I can say that I was the strongest on the climb but it was clear from the start that I wanted to win and the others knew this. The plan was to split the peloton and get a group of 7-10 riders. Then on the next lap you ride a constant speed and then on the last lap you make the winning attack. But this scenario did not happen as the peloton stuck together; overall the race was not hard enough,” said Fränk Schleck.



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