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"Friday Jurgen had a puncture on a bad moment and lost contact with the group of favourites. That's a pity because after Catalunya the condition of Van den Broeck is in line with the expectations," Aerts says

Photo: Sirotti

ITZULIA BASQUE COUNTRY

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JELLE VANENDERT

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JURGEN VAN DEN BROECK

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MAXIME MONFORT

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TIM WELLENS

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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13.04.2014 @ 10:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Lotto Belisol fielded almost all their best climbers at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco but the team left the Basque race empty-handed. Jurgen Van Den Broeck showed signs of form after coming back from his bad knee injury but an untimely puncture took him out of GC contention while Jelle Vanendert and Maxime Monfort mainly used the race to prepare for later objectives.

 

With the Vuelta al País Vasco the last preparation for the Ardennes classics has finished. There was a time trial on the final day that was won by world champion Tony Martin, who also won the second stage after a solo. Contador immediately lived up to his role as favourite for the overall victory by winning the first stage.

 

In stage three Michael Matthews sprinted towards the victory in Vitoria. Tosh Van der Sande got closed in and couldn't sprint to the full. He finished tenth. In the queen stage to Eibar Wout Poels was the best and one day later Ben Swift could celebrate. Contador is the overall winner in the Spanish Basque Country. He ends up in front of Kwiatkowski and Péraud.


Lotto Belisol made a good impression in the Basque Country. In the second stage Maxime Monfort tested the legs by joining an early break and also Tim Wellens showed himself in the stage to Markina-Xemein. Because of bad luck in the penultimate stage Jurgen Van den Broeck could forget a good GC but his condition keeps improving.


For Bart De Clercq it was less positive. Together with the team he decided to go home early. With important races coming up rest seemed to be the best for a tired Bart De Clercq.

 

"With the important races coming up we don't want to take any risk," sports director Mario Aerts said.

 

"Jelle Vanendert didn't start in the time trial. He would have had few benefits from starting. For Jelle it was mainly important to support Van den Broeck and co and spend kilometers uphill on the bike for among other the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. His focus is now on these races.

 

"Friday Jurgen had a puncture on a bad moment and lost contact with the group of favourites. That's a pity because after Catalunya the condition of Van den Broeck is in line with the expectations. He didn't get a top ten place in GC, but anyway he will go to the next races with a good shape."


"After Paris-Nice Maxime Monfort has left the bike aside for a while to be fresh to start his preparation for the Giro. Then it's normal that you have to find your rhythm in the beginning of a stage race. But his condition improved every day.

 

"The same goes for Tim Wellens. After illness he also had some trouble in the start but was one of the best in the front group in Friday's stage.


"Tosh Van der Sande actually only had one sprint chance. Eventually he couldn't go full because he got closed in. But he also makes progression. Compared to last year he climbs better.

 

"The conclusion after this race? I think all riders should be ready for the upcoming races. It was a pretty hard race, so hopefully we can reap the fruits of it in the coming weeks."

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