Frustrated Vandewalle runner-up to Gavazzi twice in 2011
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Frustrated Vandewalle runner-up to Gavazzi twice in 2011

by Kyle Moore at 6:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Developing Belgian takes solid second in Vuelta stage eighteen

Kristoff VandewalleIn a stage that seemed suited to the breakaway from the start, Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-ISD) outsprinted Kristof Vandewalle (Quick Step) for the win on stage eighteen of the Vuelta a España. Back in early April, it was again Gavazzi who beat Vandewalle to the line on stage five of the Tour of the Basque Country. And though he’s now lost out on two possible wins to the Italian, Vandewalle was diplomatic after yesterday’s stage.

“I lost to the only rider among those in the break who was faster than me,” he said after the stage. “I busted out a good sprint, but at this time I don’t have the acceleration that Gavazzi has.”

Though Vandewalle showed decent speed, he was no match for the Lampre sprinter, who has a handful of victories in flat finishes the past few seasons. And while Gavazzi has five full professional seasons under his belt, Vandewalle is in his first season with a ProTour team, after transferring to Quick Step from Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator this season.

“Francesco knows me well, because in a stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, I came in second on his wheel,” Vandewalle stated. “He knew I was fast and dangerous. When I took off at three kilometers from the finish, he immediately jumped on my wheel.”

“In the last kilometer, I tried surprising him, but right at the moment in which I made my move, he turned around and saw me take off.”

Gavazzi indicated after the stage that he knew when to go, and that Vandewalle had made a possible race-winning move. Gavazzi sensed that his breakaway mates, other than Vandewalle, were tiring. He jumped across to the Belgian and the sprint finish became a formality.

“The element of surprise vanished and in the sprint he was faster than me. It’s a shame,” Vandewalle admitted. “Anyway, I’m pleased with my form. I feel good, and in control of the situation. I was never even out of breath. There are only a few stages left to the end of the Vuelta, but I’m going to try again if I get the chance.”

Team manager Rik Van Slycke saw his rider miss out on a stage victory, but he recognised he did what he could to try to win. “Kristof did his best and shouldn’t have any regrets,” he added yesterday. “He just needs a little more experience. Again today he reaffirmed everything good he already showed in the Basque Country, the Giro d’Italia, and in general over the entire season.”


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