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"This race has confirmed my shape and I am satisfied with the result. I was certain my condition was good, but I couldn't show it because I was out of competition for a while. By moving along in the group behind Gilbert and Valverd...

Photo: Sirotti






15.04.2013 @ 11:10 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) was second in last year's Amstel Gold Race and yesterday he lined up in an attempt to improve on that performance. Even though a 13th place was not able to match last year's result, good legs made the Belgian very confident ahead of the remaining Ardennes classics.


Once again the Ardennes classics are the main targets of Jelle Vandendert's season but the Belgian had a very unfortunate lead-up to his biggest objectives. Illness forced him to abandon his major preparation race in the Basque Country and he also missed the Brabantse Pijl last Wednesday. Hence, he had some uncertainty heading into yesterday's race.


The Belgian ended up in the chase group which caught Simon Gerrans, Philippe Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde just on the line. Not known for his fast finish, he was unable to be competitive in the sprint but his sensations throughout the day had been reassuring. He even claimed that bad positioning was the main factor that prevented him from joining Gilbert's attack on the Cauberg.


"This race has confirmed my shape and I am satisfied with the result," he said. "I was certain my condition was good, but I couldn't show it because I was out of competition for a while. By moving along in the group behind Gilbert and Valverde I have shown that the condition is good. The moving of the finish of the Amstel Gold Race isn't good for me, because that way a group will sprint. I was too far behind when turning up the Cauberg for the last time, so I couldn't get along when Gilbert attacked."


Knowing that the new location of the finish line 1800m after the top of Cauberg was not in his favour, he tried to anticipate the favourites. On the Geulhemmerweg climb inside the final 20km of the race, he was part of a very dangerous move containing the likes of Bjorn Leukemans, Jakob Fuglsang, Peter Velits and Gerrans. However, the latter had teammate Pieter Weening up the road and the resulting lack of cooperation doomed the initiative.


"Before I had jumped away in a group of about six riders, I thought it was necessary to go along because all important teams were present, in that escape or in the front group," he said. "At that moment BMC wasn't very present in the race. But we didn't succeed in setting up a good collaboration, partly because Simon Gerrans had his teammate Weening in front."


With a boosted confidence, he now turns his attention to the Fleche Wallone. Last year he was 4th and in 2011 he was 6th while working for Philippe Gilbert. He has thus proved his ability to handle the steep slopes of the Mur de Huy.


"This race has definitely given me hope for the Flèche Wallonne next Wednesday," he said. "You see that the difference is small between the podium and the twentieth place."


On Wednesday, you can follow all the action from the Fleche Wallonne on



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