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"When one door closes another opens, so perhaps I will be good on Alpe d’Huez. I am far enough down now that I should be let go in a breakaway. Now it is like this. I am disappointed but I won’t hang my head," Sch...

Photo: A.S.O.

ANDY SCHLECK

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JAN BAKELANTS

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MARKEL IRIZAR ARANBURU

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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14.07.2013 @ 20:05 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

A strong showing in the final Pyrenean stage had convinced Andy Schleck (Radioshack) that he would be good on today's stage to Mont Ventoux but his hopes were dashed early on when he fell off the pace. Having finished 39th 10.42 behind stage winner Chris Froome (Sky), the Luxembourger has now given up on his GC ambitions and instead targets a stage win in the Alps.

 

Prior to the Tour de France, many had doubted Andy Schleck's ability to perform at the world's biggest race as he had been plagued by a horrible time ever since his crash at last year's Dauphiné. When he suddenly emerged as one of the best climbers on the final Pyrenean stage last Sunday, his Radioshack team started to believe that a surprise result could be in store as the Luxembourger usually gets better as a grand tour goes on.

 

Those hopes were dealt a blow in today's stage to Mont Ventoux as the Luxembourger fell off the pace early on. Teammate Andreas Klöden fell back to assist his captain but in the end he lost 10.42 to stage winner Chris Froome.

 

The result was certainly not what Schleck had expected.

 

“I don’t know what went wrong; I just wasn’t good enough to go with the best today," he said. "I thought I would be a lot better and actually it’s a stage that suits me well. I took care all day to conserve energy but in the end clearly I was not on a good day."

 

Despite the defeat, Schleck refuses to give up. Having lost out on one of the two most prestigious stages, he has now set his sights on the other.

 

"When one door closes another opens, so perhaps I will be good on Alpe d’Huez," he said. "I am far enough down now that I should be let go in a breakaway. Now it is like this.  I am disappointed but I won’t hang my head. I will keep my head up and fight for victory in another stage.”

 

The team had big plans for Schleck and so had put Markel Irizar into the early breakaway. The hopes was that the Spaniard would be able to assist his leader when his planned attack was set in.

 

“This was my first time on Ventoux," Irizar explained. "I was in the break for most of the day and I felt like I had good legs. That’s why I went with Riblon in the beginning of the climb. The plan was to stay in front as long as possible in case Andy was to come up. That also kept our car in the front for as long as possible."

 

Due to his bad day, Schleck never attacked but instead Jan Bakelants continued his impressive showing at this year's Tour de France. Having already been in the break yesterday, the Belgian attacked for the second day in a row.

 

"Andy didn’t have his best day, but then Bakie (Bakelants, ed.) was coming so I waited to pull him a little bit," Irizar said. "I next waited for Max (Maxime Monfort, ed.) to come and gave him by bidon and then my day was over.”

 

Bakelants stayed ahead for a while but was later overtaken by climbers Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) before falling back. Nonetheless, he was satisfied with his showing on a stage that was not perfectly suited to his characteristics.

 

“I can never win on this climb against the big engines but am happy with my performance," he said. "The last 5k were hell as my sugar reserves were depleted. I should have eaten earlier. It was hard to follow Quintana and Nieve – they weigh 20- and 10kg less than me. I’m happy I showed myself. In the end there was just a small group left with me so my speed must not have been too slow. This was my first time on Ventoux. I had no idea what to expect. The crowds were impressive.”

 

The team's best rider ended up being Maxime Monfort who finished 20th and moved into 20th on GC. That performance left sports director Kim Andersen with some cause for satisfaction.

 

“It was a crazy stage," he said. "It’s not often that you see a hard stage like this go so fast. The first four hours we had an average of 47kph. Then we arrived at the climb and everything exploded.  We tried to play our cards with Andy and Max but Andy did not have a good day. Max, however, did a good job; he can be very pleased. It was a hard stage and the strongest rider won. There isn’t much else to say. I think everyone needs a rest day now.”

 

That rest day will be followed by a typical stage for a breakaway on Tuesday. Having lost out on its GC hopes with Andy Schleck, the team hopes to add to its stage win account which was opened in Ajaccio on stage 2 when Bakelants took the win. Starting at 14.00, you can follow the stage on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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