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Mathias Frank proves once again he is among the best climbers in the world (foto by Isabelle Duchnesne)
Mathias Frank proves once again he is among the best climbers in the world (foto by Isabelle Duchnesne)

Mathias Frank finishes with lead group; takes 7th at l'Ain's first mountain test

11. August 2009

Lelex Mont Jura

Since this short morning stage at the Tour del'Ain proved to be decisive in the final general classification at the 2008 edition, everyone was on their guard and expecting a big showdown on the slopes around the Mont Jura.  Though the stage was barely over 100 kilometers long, the route contained three categorized climbs as well as an uncategorized climb to the finish. 

BMC's Mathias Frank had the full support of his teammates throughout the stage, making it possible for him to hang with the top men to the finish line, taking 7th place for the stage along the way.  AG2R's Ludovic Turpin took the stage and the overall lead for the moment.  With a short afternoon time trial and a seriously difficult final stage on Wednesday, the general classification is far from decided.

No time to save energy

"Today's morning stage went really well for the team and Mathias had an excellent ride," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue was pleased to report while preparing the team for the afternoon time trial.  "He was always staying in the front and remained very alert all day."  Since the stage was very short, everything seemed to be happening at an accelerated pace.  "There was not too much energy-saving going on!" Frank said.  "It was very fast from the beginning with constant attacks; there were a lot of splits happening so I made sure to be always in the front 10 or 20 riders to avoid getting gapped."  Passing over the first two categorized climbs, the peloton was continually being whittled down by enthusiastic attacking until only a handful of riders were able to keep the pace.  "By the bottom of the second to last climb, there were only maybe 19 guys in the front group, but four of them were Cofidis riders, so I knew that they would try something," Frank revealed.  "Sure enough Moncoutié attacked.  I know the climb and the descent pretty well so I was sure that I could catch him."   BMC's young climber set out after the Cofidis veteran, easily catching him on the descent.  "I know Moncoutié isn't the best descender so it seemed like a good opportunity, but we were eventually caught by six other guys on the last climb," Frank said.

Climbing with the best

Though the final climb of the day was not actually categorized, it still provided enough of a challenge to make a selection even among the top climbers of the race.  "After the group came back to Moncoutié and me, there were a lot of attacks," Frank said.  "By the finish line the group of eight had split into two groups of four, and I was in the second group which finished ten seconds behind."  John Lelangue believes that Frank's efforts this morning have kept him very much in with a chance for the overall.  "Finishing just ten seconds back will keep Mathias well placed for the next two stages," Lelangue said.  "The time trial this afternoon is so short, any differences will only be a matter of seconds.  Tomorrow's finish at Colombier will definitely decide who will take away the victory this year."  "It is a bit of a shame to have lost those few seconds this morning, but I could gain them back in the time trial this afternoon, and the climb to Colombier can gain or lose a rider minutes instead of seconds," Frank concluded.  "It is a long, hard climb and will certainly be where the race will be decided."