Bakelants gets another top Tour finish as Radioshack-Leopard moves up
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Bakelants gets another top Tour finish as Radioshack-Leopard moves up

by Kyle Moore at 4:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Andreas Klöden runner up again in Le Grand Bornand, nine years on

Jan BakelantsMore than 40 riders got away at the beginning of stage 19 of the Tour de France, from Bourg d’Oisans to Le Grand Bornand, but after it was whittled down to a better working group, the Radioshack-Leopard pair of Andreas Klöden and Jan Bakelants stayed away for second and third place, respectively. Rui Costa (Movistar) was the strongest rider on the day and grabbed the stage by 48 seconds over Klöden, with the former yellow jersey Bakelants coming in 1’44” back.

Seventeen men stayed away from the group of overall favourites after building and maintaining a big time gap for most of the stage. The yellow jersey group of Chris Froome (Sky Procycling) finished 8’40” behind the stage winner. Alberto Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff squad spent the latter portion of the stage pulling the favourites group, on a day with action taking place primarily due to a three-way battle for the team classification.

Thanks to Klöden and Bakelants, Radioshack-Leopard was able to trim 9 minutes off of its 12-minute deficit to Saxo-Tinkoff, moving up from third to second in the classification. Even though it had Romain Bardet gain time in the escape, AG2R La Mondiale dropped from second to third, 7’37” behind. Radioshack-Leopard’s deficit is now 3’39”.

After Costa made his decisive attack on the Col de la Croix Fry, neither Klöden nor Bakelants had the strength to cover the powerful Portuguese rider. After struggling to communicate with each other as to how to play out the finale, both Radioshack-Leopard riders chose to go at their own tempo, but they still nailed the two podium places.

“Jan and I tried to talk but it was raining hard right then as well, so it was a little bit confusing. I attacked once but I remembered the descent and how fast it is, so I thought I couldn’t catch [Costa] on the descent but I was also riding for the team GC,” Klöden stated.

The German veteran also took second in Le Grand Bornand in 2004. Then, it was a defeat to Lance Armstrong, who had famously begun the descent by telling team-mate Floyd Landis, “Run like you stole something, Floyd.” With Landis unable, the Texan took the stage ahead of Klöden.

Seemingly a lifetime later, he reflected on another runner up finish. “When I saw the last climb I remembered it well. Now I’m second again after nine years,” he mused. “But it’s a good result. Costa’s attack was good. I knew he would attack but I was already at my limit so I knew I had to go at my own pace. The group wasn’t really working and he was too strong.”

A few years on, some things are different for the German stage racer, as he currently sits 28th overall. “I don’t really like riding hard one day and then easy the next,” Klöden admitted. “I’m a GC rider but in the Pyrenees I already lost so much time that GC was over for me, so this is new to me, going one day easy, then the next in the breakaway. Today was a good chance for the breakaway. In the beginning we had too many guys, but the last half was a good group and we were rolling along.”

Stage 2 winner Bakelants explained his day, stating that he didn’t feel Costa was beatable after his attack.

“Costa was stronger. Maybe it could have been a little different if I’d reacted earlier when [Mikel] Nieve and [Dani] Navarro attacked. I did have good legs, but I didn’t want to try for nothing. In the end Costa went and he was very strong. I tried to go too but I saw I wasn’t going to be able to get close. I then decided to measure my effort.

“Klödi went to the front of the group to pull and I saw he was stronger than me. I told him to go if he could. Once he was gone the rhythm in our group was gone. I know Costa very well during my career. He’s a good rider. It’s no dishonor to lose to him. If I look at the Tour riders ahead of me, it’s an honor to take third.”

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