Kevin Seeldraeyers reemerges at the Vuelta a España
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Kevin Seeldraeyers reemerges at the Vuelta a España

by Kyle Moore at 5:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Belgian back on top form in Spanish Grand Tour

Kevin SeeldraeyersKevin Seeldraeyers (Quick Step) stamped his name on yesterday’s stage nine at the Vuelta a España, and the young Belgian seems as if he is in the group of favorites to stay as the race moves into its second week. Seeldraeyers put in a dig halfway up the finishing climb, and while the move was short-lived, the Quick Step rider finished the stage amongst the favorites in thirteenth place, with Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) at his side. Seeldraeyers now sits in eighth place overall going into today’s time trial.

The Vuelta marks the second Grand Tour the 24-year-old has started this season, but it has been a while since he has performed to the standard he set two years ago. In the 2009 Giro d’Italia, Seeldraeyers was the best young rider, finishing in thirteenth overall, sixteen minutes behind winner Denis Menchov. This result came after a seventh place finish in Paris-Nice.

In 2010, Seeldraeyers scuffled badly, and while he was able to finish his debut Tour de France, the Belgian achieved no positive results during the season. This spring, he was unable to duplicate his Giro of two years ago, finishing 50th in Milan. But in the Spanish late summer, the Quick Step rider seems to have found a rich vein of form.

“This morning I felt really good,” he remarked after stage nine. “I wanted to try to do something good. So I attacked along the [final] climb.”

Though a series of individual attacks went off on the Sierra de Bejar climb, stiff breezes made it tough for anything to stick. Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) was unsuccessful, and even eventual stage winner Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) couldn’t keep away from a quickly moving lead group.

“Maybe I made a minor error in underestimating the wind, which was a major factor today,” Seeldraeyers admitted. “It was the first time I’ve ever seen the pack break up on a climb due to wind gusts.”

“When I got caught, I concentrated on defending myself so I wouldn’t lose my position. Maybe if I had waited for the hardest part of the climb to attack I might have been able to win.”

Before Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) seized it from him, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) held the red leader’s jersey, thanks to searing accelerations on shorter finishing climbs, and two stage wins so far. With tired legs, he was caught out in the winds that Seeldraeyers spoke of.

“The first week of the race was really draining,” Seeldraeyer’s teammate Sylvain Chavanel added. The former red jersey wearer said his primary goal in the next stages will be to help Seeldraeyers through the mountains, and maybe seek a stage win for himself. “Congratulations to Kevin, today in a really difficult finish he proved he’s worthy of a top placing,” Chavanel lauded after the stage.

“I’m really happy. This was the first real test on a climb and I’m in really good shape,” Seeldraeyers concluded. “Tomorrow, there’s the time trial. I know it’s going to be a stage of suffering for me and that I’ll lose some time. However, I know that after the rest day there will be plenty of climbs on which I can try to shine.”

“I’ll do some recon of the [time trial] route and then I’ll do my best, trying in particular to limit the leads of the pure climbers like me, so I can get back into the battle in the mountains.”


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