Machado and Bakelants give Radioshack-Nissan a good season start in Australia
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Machado and Bakelants give Radioshack-Nissan a good season start in Australia

by Kyle Moore at 6:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Riders pick up team GC title in WorldTour race

Jan BakelantsRadioshack-Nissan was introduced to much fanfare earlier this month, with the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara front and center. But before the team’s big stars even take to the road, some of the less-accomplished riders have already gotten the new team off to a flying start.

The Luxembourg-based squad stepped onto the podium Sunday, crowned as the best team of the Santos Tour Down Under. It took vigilant riding in the final two stages to finish 24 seconds ahead of Sky Procycling, and to top the team section of the first UCI WorldTour rankings of the 2012 season.

Tiago Machado led the way in the race, finishing third overall, eight seconds behind overall winner Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge). Jan Bakelants (pictured) made his team debut with a sixth place finish, and Linus Gerdemann was 12th, 42 seconds behind Gerrans.

“I am happy. This is the first race of the year and I’m on the podium,” Machado said afterwards. “It’s my biggest result so far. I want to say thanks to the team for the support this entire week. Without them for sure I would not have this result.

“I hope I’m not at the top of my form yet because I have other races that I want to be even better in, so I will keep working in that direction.”

It was the stage five finish on Wallunga Hill that decided the majority of the final general classification result. Machado took third on this stage as well, and Bakelants was eighth, as Radioshack-Nissan worked hard with several riders in the front split after the first of two ascents of Wallunga. Unsurprisingly, it was Jen Voigt who worked hardest for the team to set up the finish.

Though the GC placings seemed final heading in to Sunday’s final sprint stage, Bakelants had other ideas. The Belgian went on the attack on the circuits halfway through stage six, and the bonus seconds he picked up at the intermediate sprint were enough to move him from seventh to sixth, passing Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling).

“I thought about this early this morning,” Bakelants explained. “I said to the mechanics, ‘Put on the TT wheels because I have a plan today.’ Nobody believed it but it worked out pretty nice.

“I was a bit scared of Michael Matthews who was only ten seconds behind me and if he were to win the stage and take the ten-second bonus, he would have jumped over me and Edvald Boasson Hagen too. So I decided that I would try to pass Boasson Hagen by doing something in the intermediate sprint. I saw the opportunity to go and I could make a nice gap.”

Himself no stranger to aggressive, opportunistic racing, Gerdemann summed up Radioshack-Nissan’s first outing.

“This was a good week for us,” he added. “We won the team GC and had two in the top ten, one of them on the podium, so I think it’s a good start for us, especially with a new batch of guys.

“By racing together here we have learned which strengths each guy has and how we can best work together. I’d say we are ready for the next race.”

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