Video: Jelle Vanendert to battle with Samuel Sanchez for Tour de France mountains competition
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Video: Jelle Vanendert to battle with Samuel Sanchez for Tour de France mountains competition

by Shane Stokes at 3:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France, Video
Belgian says he’s already exceeded his own expectations

Jelle VanendertTour de France mountains competition leader Jelle Vanendert is preparing himself for the most important three days of his professional career, with a victory in that classification on the cards if things go right for him.

He has held the polka dot jersey since his victory atop Plateau de Beille, the Belgian Omega Pharma Lotto rider breaking clear on the long climb to the line. While the race contenders marked each other out of stage contention, he raced onwards and hit the finish well clear. That result plus his second place in Luz Ardiden means that he is now two points clear of Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskadel-Euskadi) and a full 29 ahead of Jérémy Roy (FDJ).

There was no change to the standings on today’s stage to Gap, with the points going to other riders on the second category Col de Manse.

Vanendert has stepped things up a level in the Tour and is quietly proud of what he has achieved. At the Omega Pharma Lotto press conference on the race’s second rest day, the jersey was laid across the table in front of him, in full view of those present. It was in his view and, unsurprisingly, on his mind.

“Maybe the mountains jersey,” he said, when asked by VeloNation at Monday’s conference what he could achieve in the remainder of the race. “I think it is between myself and Sanchez, it is 50-50. In the Alps we will see…it is going to be hard, I think, because the riders of the classification are going to play their cards well. Not everybody is sure of his time trial performance, so [due to attacks] I think it will be very hard in the Alps.”

The 26 year old has stepped up his performances this season, netting sixth in Flèche Wallonne, thirteenth in the Amstel Gold race and then seventh on stage two of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The latter result increased his confidence prior to the Tour, but things have already worked out better than he had anticipated. That’s partly due to the enforced abandonment of the team’s GC leader due to a crash.

“I felt already in the Dauphjne that I was ready for the Tour, but I thought that I was ready to help Jurgen Van den Broeck,” he explained. “To follow the big riders of the GC is always something else than helping a rider from the GC. Now I am there in the final until the last kilometres…I didn’t expect that before the Tour.”

He also didn’t expect to be scrapping it out against the Olympic champion for one of the most prestigious prizes in the Tour but, on the slopes of legendary climbs such as the Col du Galibier and Alpe d’Huez, he will be doing just that.



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