Paris-Nice – Rik Verbrugghe «It was pretty chaotic and dangerous in the final»

11 March 2015

IAM Cycling

The peloton has finally left the monotony of the plains to rub up against the steeper slopes in central France.  With three categorized climbs on slate for the third stage, and with a finish line just beyond a stiff hump of 200 meters at 11% gradient, whoever was going to win today would have to have seriously good legs.  As has been the case in similar finishes, it was Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) who came out on top in front of Davide Cimolai and Giacomo Nizzolo. Jonas Van Genechten, IAM Cycling’s sprinter for the day, finished fifteenth in the stage.

IAM Cycling Paris Nice Verbrugghe Rik

Relatively calm and without any major events, the pack passed a nervous day on the road, knowing that above all, concentration was required.  It was important for the team to avoid being trapped at the back where mishaps could easily occur.  In an attempt to anticipate all events, IAM Cycling had their instructions to follow.  “The strategy was to stay well ahead in the front of the pack, especially on the back roads of the final circuit, and try to protect Jonas Van Genechten for the sprint,” sports manager Rik Verbrugghe said.  “But it was quite chaotic and very dangerous in the final.  However, I saw that the team was working well as a group today, protecting its leaders like Sylvain Chavanel and Mathias Frank, especially because Thursday will be a big day for us.  We had to be careful, especially in the last 50 kilometers, where we could feel that the bunch was getting very nervous.  The main thing is that Sylvain and Mathias have gotten through unscathed, and they were never forced to take any risks on this stage.”

IAM Cycling Paris Nice Reynes Vicente

Protecting his leaders and helping them limit their risks is exactly what Vicente Reynes, and several others on the team, sees as his role and responsibility.  For the rider from Mallorca, he was on call from the first click of the odometer.  “It was a fairly easy stage, rather flat and not with any real major difficulties.  But as the kilometers ticked by, and once we got closer to the end, it became very nervous.  The road was very narrow and in the last 75 kilometers it became very stressful. We tried to place Haussler well to help Jonas in the sprint.  But in the final kilometers, when the road was still tight, we were not quite up at the front far enough, so we launched our sprint a little too late.  Today the plan was that I had to protect Jonas.  We wanted to be placed as far forward as possible to start the sprint in the best conditions.  I think today would have been a good finish for his qualities, since he is an explosive rider, and the type of sprinter who can overcome the sorts of climbs like today at the finish.  I think we simply launched our sprint a little too late.  On the positive side, I have very good legs, I’m feeling great, and I know that I can help Chavanel and Frank in the coming days.  So we will try again.”

IAM Cycling Paris Nice Frank Mathias 2