Stefan Denifl comes good for Leopard-Trek in Montreal
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stefan Denifl comes good for Leopard-Trek in Montreal

by Kyle Moore at 5:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Young Austrian rider can’t hold off Gilbert, finishes fifth

Stefan DeniflWhen a late breakaway took out the GP de Montreal on Sunday, Stefan Denifl (Leopard-Trek) was in the thick of the action until 100 meters to go. But he couldn’t hold on to eventual winner Rui Costa (Movistar) and fellow breakaway mate Pierrick Fedrigo (FdJ), who finished second. Philippe Gilbert and Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) also pulled around the fading Swiss rider, but Denifl crossed the line for a solid fifth place.

“I’m happy with my performance,” he stated at the finish. “I invested in a long block of altitude training, and it paid off – finally! Today suited me well. It was a nice race for me, and I think it was also a nice race for the team. Fabian [Wegmann] was tenth, so he had a strong result as well.”

With the absence of the Schleck brothers at the Canadian races, which best suit the hilly classics specialists, Leopard-Trek sent teams to Canada that weren’t expected to compete for top honours. But when the dust had settled in Montreal, Denifl was fifth, Wegmann tenth, and Anders Lund crossed the line in 21st postion.

With Denifl and Wegmann, Leopard-Trek employed a strategy they commonly try with the Schleck brothers. “I went on the final climb,” Denifl explained. “Fabian and I were always on the front. On the top of the last climb, Fabian went up the road with five or six other riders. I was just behind. The group with Fabian was caught on the downhill.”

“As they were brought back, I thought to myself, ‘Okay, now it’s time to go,’ and I attacked on the descent. The two other riders [Costa and Fedrigo] went with me. We were on the front, working well together. The guys behind were eyeing one another, and I suddenly realized we could stay away. I had a good, good feeling about the break.”

While an organized chase never really developed in the exhausted peloton behind, Denifl implored his companions to go as hard as possible. “I told the other guys, ‘We really have to commit now. We’re all on the podium if we make it.’ In the end, they were a little bit cooler than me,” he added.

The 23-year-old is a former winner of the under-23 Thüringen Rundfarht stage race, directly ahead of current pros Steven Kruijswijk, Jack Bobridge, and Patrick Gretsch. With only a handful of racing days in 2011 so far, Denifl struggled against the veterans Costa and Fedrigo.

“They had more racing left in their legs. I just wanted to finish with them, and I didn’t think about using everything I had to make it,” Denifl admitted. “In the last corner, with 500 meters to go, I was on the front. There was a strong headwind, so it wasn’t the perfect place. Two guys caught me before the line. I was fifth in the end.”

“It was a hard race,” team director Kim Anderson said. “It was full gas from the beginning. The finale was difficult. Wegmann, Denifl, and Bruno [Piries] were ready for anything. They were attentive to the race as it unfolded. Denifl made a nice move.”

Leopard-Trek used this attentiveness to pick up the team classification award on the Montreal podium. Anderson kept his young Austrian rider’s result in perspective.

“It would have been a big ask from Denfil to have won this race,” he concluded. “With a little more experience, I think he could have been on the podium. It’s a good surprise that he did so well here. I’m happy for him.”

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