Friday, June 14, 2013

Thüringen: Consistency pays off for Dylan van Baarle

He wasn't the strongest in the prologue and he hasn't been the strongest in the hills but you don't have to be in a stage race, where consistency is the Rosetta Stone to unlock a high GC placing. Dylan van Baarle has been storming the fields in his final U23 season before he sets off for Garmin-Sharp in 2014 and while he didn't blow the doors off the field in the Streufdorf TT, he did well enough to take the yellow jersey over fellow Garmin recruit Lasse Norman Hansen by three seconds.

From the beginning, it was going to be a tough ask for Silvio Herklotz to hold onto his yellow jersey. While a competent prologue rider, Herklotz is still a level under the best TTers on the U23 level and with only a seven second lead on Hansen and just a few more seconds going back from there. This was compounded by his truly epic ride on Tuesday when he spent the final 60 kilometers off the front to get into the leader's jersey. At only 19, Herklotz was going into this with some thoroughly trashed legs and lacking in some important experience.

Early on, it was Herklotz's Stölting teammate Nils Politt who set the best time, averaging a tick over 48 km/h over the rolling course. Politt had to wait a good while before he was knocked off by Kristian Haugaard but shortly afterwards, it was Olympia's Tour TT winner Campbell Flakemore who put in a outstanding ride with an average that was nearly 50.5 km/h. Flakemore, who, when not ont he national team, rides for the Huon-Genesys trade team that has produced such riders as Richie Porte, Nathan Haas and Steele von Hoff, is cementing himself as the next big Aussie TT specialist. With Flakmore well down on GC, his time would be a goal for the GC riders later in the day.

More riders came in but Flakemore's time was the gold standard. His Australian compatriot Damien Howson, who lost time on the difficult queen stage, put in a sterling ride that put him 16 seconds down on Flakemore and improved his GC chances exponentially. Dylan van Baarle set off just before best young rider TJ Eisenhart (USA National/BMC Devo) and while the course was perhaps not perfectly suited for him, the Dutchman rode within himself and slotted into 3rd position, 2 seconds back from Howson. It should be said that Eisenhart put in a great performance that saw him finish 7th on the day and bolstered his young rider's lead.

With van Baarle setting the GC standard, his future teammate Lasse Norman Hansen, who has been performing brilliantly all week, needed to stay within 12 seconds of van Baarle to stay ahead of him on the general classification. Stormin' Norman gave it everything he had, using Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-iHNed) as his carrot, but even as he caught the Frenchman in the final kilometer, it was not enough to stay ahead of van Baarle, as he finished 14 seconds behind him.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Dane but he was still able to see the podium at the end of the day as he took over the points classification and still has a shot to take over the general classification with two stages left.

Silvio Herklotz tried his best but it seems that fatigue and just good, but not excellent, TT skills saw him cede two minutes to Flakemore and the young Berliner dropped to 9th overall. Herklotz's team manager and coach Jochen Hahn was nonplussed on the loss of the yellow jersey after the finish and said that Silvio is still young and has plenty of time to develop. Herklotz recently inked a deal that would see him stay with the team for a further two seasons and while we know that this deal could end prematurely, it is a good sign that Herklotz knows that he has things he needs to improve on before stepping up to the next level.

Also, it was a pretty disappointing day for Etixx-iHNed. The Czech-based squad had Alaphilippe (3rd) and Patrick Konrad (13th) inside the top 15 but both produced so-so TT performances, which saw them drop down to 13th and 17th overall respectively.

Top 10 Streufdorf - Streufdorf 28.4km

  1. Campbell Flakemore (Australia)
  2. Damien Howson (Australia) +16"
  3. Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Devo) +18"
  4. Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark) +32"
  5. Jasha Sütterlin (Thüringer Energie) +44"
  6. Adam Phelan (Australia) +1'08"
  7. TJ Eisenhart (USA) +1'13"
  8. Michael Vink (New Zealand) s.t.
  9. Rasmus Sterobo (Denmark) +1'17"
  10. Maximilian Schachmann (Thüringer Energie) +1'22"

Full Results

The GC battles is very tight heading into the final two days of the race with van Baarle only having 3 seconds on Stormin' Norman while Damien Howson sits at 16 seconds back. Stage 6 heads up to the highest point in the race at nearly 1000 meters but the stage is front loaded with six climbs in the first half of the race, while the last 60 kilometers is mainly downhill with one small climb and descent back into the stage town of Ichtershausen. Saturday's course is again around Ichtershausen but the climbs are more spread out and there are a few lumps near the end that could serve as a jumping point. It really depends how the stages are races because if some sprinters are able to hand around and the peloton is keen, any breakaway attempts could be squashed but the opposite could be true as well. Let's hope the crazy racing continues, eh?

Top 10 GC

  1. Dylan van Baarle
  2. Lasse Norman Hansen +3"
  3. Damien Howson +16"
  4. Adam Phelan +47"
  5. Michael Vink +49"
  6. TJ Eisenhart +53"
  7. Rasmus Sterobo +1'05"
  8. Michael Valgren +1'21"
  9. Silvio Herklotz +1'30"
  10. Maximilian Schachmann +1'37"

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