Vanendert: “Today I proved I can win these races”
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Vanendert: “Today I proved I can win these races”

by Kyle Moore at 3:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
 
Without Gilbert to assist, Vanendert reaches podium in Amstel Gold Race

Jelle VanendertAfter confirming his potential in the Grand Tours last year, Jelle Vanendert performed admirably in a single-day Classic, coming in second behind Enrico Gasparotto in the Amstel Gold Race.

Of the five men away in the finale who seemed to have a shot at the win, Vanendert appeared the strongest. But Gasparotto used guile and more experience to come around the Belgian within meters of the line. Vanendert pounded his handlebars in frustration, but had composed himself after ruminating on his runner-up finish after the race.

“I’m disappointed, but mostly happy because today I proved that I can win these races,” Vanendert said, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

The Belgian separated from a larger bunch kick with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Gasparotto. The trio was following Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), who had lit out in desperation, chasing Oscar Freire (Katusha), who had attacked earlier.

Once Freire and Gilbert were caught and distanced, an exhausted Sagan couldn’t open his sprint and Gasparotto fought off his own cramps to beat Vanendert by a bike length.

“Sagan went first, then Gasparotto followed, and then I went, but he was just a bit stronger than me,” Vanendert said of the Italian winner. “I’m disappointed, but today I proved that I can actually win these races in the future. I have always believed, but others have doubted sometimes.

“In the offseason, I said that I really hoped I could prove myself worthy of leadership. Well, I think I’m on the right track.”

Lotto-Belisol’s other leader, Jurgen Van den Broeck, suffered after a low-speed crash in the peloton. He used two team-mates and his team car as assistance back to the peloton, but as more climbs arrived, he began to fall off the back again. He would finish 119th, more than eleven minutes behind.

Gianni Meersman, who has had a resurgent spring in his first season with the Belgian team, was the next man in for Lotto-Belisol, in 39th. Vanendert paid tribute to his team, which is looking to get back on track after a difficult early spring.

“The team rode well today,” he added. “It’s too bad Van den Broeck went down, but that is simply part of the race. Meersman and my brother Dennis [Vanendert, who finished 92nd – ed.] have assisted me very well today.”

Vanendert heads next to Fleche Wallone, where he finished sixth last year in support of then team-mate Gilbert.

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