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Mathias Frank putting in a good performance at the Tour de Wallonie (foto by Tim de Waele)
Mathias Frank putting in a good performance at the Tour de Wallonie (foto by Tim de Waele)

Mathias Frank takes 8th at Wallonie third stage, Alex Moos top 10 on GC

27. July 2009

Thuin

In an attack-riddled stage with a tough cobbled climb finish, BMC saw the third stage at the Tour de Wallonie as one of their best chances to place their GC riders solidly in with a shot at victory. 

The stage started out with a flurry of attacks, many of which contained at least one BMC jersey.  Though they were not represented in the three man break that did manage to hold its advantage to the finish, BMC had Mathias Frank and Alex Moos sprinting in the lead group which finished just a whisker behind the two escapees left at the end of the day.  Saxo Bank's Matthew Goss won the stage while BMC's Mathias Frank sprinted to 8th place just five seconds behind the day's winner.

Riding efficiently in the pack

"It was a good stage to use for helping us in the GC, so we were always looking to be in a good position," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said.  "There were a lot of attacks very early on and we were always in a good place for them."  After barely 5 kilometers of racing a break did manage to slip away without a BMC rider joining it.  "Three guys got away very early on and though Danilo and Martin chased hard to get on, the pack was going very fast and they didn't quite get away," Mathias Frank explained.  "But the conditions were tough with rain and a head wind nearly the whole day so we all did think that the break would not survive to the finish."  The wind and wet roads made for nervous, dangerous racing.  "Once the break went off, we worked to protect our main GC riders, and I must say that I am very pleased with the teamwork I saw from our sprinters," Lelangue said.  "Today it was their job to protect the other riders, and Martin Kohler in particular did a lot of great, unselfish work for his teammates." 

Positioning essential for the finishing climb

Though the pack had the break in its sights even with a thousand meters to go to the line, the technically dangerous aspect of the run up to the climb played to the advantage of the front duo.  "It was very important to be well-positioned going into the climb, and with that in mind, Markus Zberg did an amazing amount of work for me in the last 3 kilometers," Frank said.  "There was a tricky, fast descent with about 3 k to go and Markus railed me down the hill, making sure I was safe in the first ten riders when we hit the climb."  With the front two riders just out of reach, Frank made a perfect sprint which kept him with the leaders without wasting too much energy.  "We didn't catch the first two guys, but I was safely sprinting in the first six or seven riders which was perfect for me," Frank explained.  "It was a hard, short, intense effort, but I was happy to see that I could stay with the best without actually having to go all out; it gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the race as well as the upcoming events."

Climbers trying to outsmart the sprinters

The final two stages of the Tour de Wallonie are not without their climbs, but the obstacles should not be so severe as to prevent mass sprints at the finishes.  "It's hard to tell how the next two days will go," Frank reasoned.  "Of course the first stage and today's stage look to suit a rider like me the best, while the final two stages should be more suited to the sprinters."  In this part of Belgium, though, strong winds can never be ruled out and indeed could play a major role in deciding the overall winner.  "We will have to be attentive because echelons can form and splits in the pack could result in gaining valuable seconds," Frank said.  "We will look for the breaks and do our best to gain the time we need to finish as high up as possible."