Kolobnev suffers “bad luck, nothing more” in final Tour de Wallonie stage
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kolobnev suffers “bad luck, nothing more” in final Tour de Wallonie stage

by Kyle Moore at 4:36 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Race winner Van Avermaet rapidly becomes a hot favourite in the peloton

Alexander KolobnevAlexander Kolobnev (Katusha) entered the final stage of the Tour de Wallonie nursing a slight lead in the overall classification, but the Russian seemingly had the team and the legs to defend, even on the final two climbs of the Mur de Thuin.

His Katusha squad protected him throughout the fireworks of an attacking finale, but Kolobnev disappeared from the front as Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) attacked to the victory on the final time up the climb. Van Avermaet had to make up 22 seconds on Kolobnev to take overall victory, but he put 24 seconds into the Russian on top of the ten-second time bonus for the win, which was more than enough to give the overall to the BMC rider.

Anthony Geslin (FDJ.fr) remained second, and Kolobnev dropped down to third overall.

But Kolobnev did perhaps have the team and the legs to defend, because in reality it was a mechanical problem that did him in not just on the final climb of the Mur de Thuin, but on the entire 12km lap leading back toward the climb and the finish line.

Kolobnev rolled over the line, climbed off, and disgustedly spun his chain, before throwing his bike in frustration.

“Today I was in good shape, and the team was perfect and supported me during the whole stage,” Kolobnev stated afterward.

“What a pity. With 12 kilometres to go on the cobbles my chain was blocked in the rear gearshift. So, sometimes this happens, especially on the cobbles. I had bad luck, nothing more. I did not have enough time to change the bike because of the high pace of the group. I decided to continue the race. So, finally, I was able to take 3rd place in the general.”

Having had a chance to think about it, Kolobnev was more positive in his assessments of the race afterward. The Russian veteran will have goals coming up, and should certainly be considered a favourite in the races that suit him.

“Not bad, counting one stage victory and four days in yellow. Now I am looking forward to the next big race – Classica San Sebastian. I am very motivated for it,” he added.

Meanwhile, ill fortune for Kolobnev became good luck for Van Avermaet, who, to his credit, put on a powerful display in attacking to the stage five victory. The win gave him a second bouquet after also taking stage three. The overall Wallonie victory compliments Van Avermaet’s previous title in the race, in 2011.

Wallonie week gave Van Avermaet his first three wins of the season, and in the span of just a few days, he has given BMC Racing one of the hottest hands in the active peloton. Though the overall victory was the result of his stage five attack, Van Avermaet insisted that the stage was his only real goal.

“I was just trying to win the stage," Van Avermaet explained. "From zero to three victories, this is really great for me. I'm very happy with my Tour de Wallonie. It is a parcours that suits me and it's good for my confidence for San Sebastian [on Saturday].”

BMC used an ultra-aggressive tactic over the last few stages to set up Van Avermaet’s victories, which team director Jackson Stewart noted.

“It was impressive. It was the same thing we've been doing all week,” Stewart added. “Everyone did everything perfectly. Taylor Phinney came to the front and put Greg right there at the bottom. When Phinney pulled off, Greg just lit it up on the cobblestones and stayed on the gas the whole way up.”


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