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Tour de Wallonie

Jan Bakelants concludes in style

Jan Bakelants won the fifth and last stage of the Tour de Wallonie this Wednesday, which was ridden exclusively in the Hainaut region, where the headquarters of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux are situated.

The 36 year old rider won thanks to an attack in the final 1000 meter, creating a gap big enough to hold the sprinting peloton off until the line.

He concluded the day in the nicest way, after working for his leaders Loïc Vliegen and Lorenzo Rota to defend their 2nd and 4th place in the provisional classification.

During this stage of 214 kilometer, the longest of the event, the contenders for the final victory tried to make use of the 25 kilometer of cobbles to make a difference but it was eventually a complete peloton entering the final kilometer.

It is the first victory for Jan Bakelants since 2016 and the seventeenth succes of the Belgian World Team this season. Loïc Vliegen finished seventh in the stage and ended second in the Tour de Wallonie. Lorenzo Rota is fourth in the final classification.

Biniam Girmay was involved in a crash on the second cobble section and was forced to abandon. Luckily, the Eritrean rider did not sustain any serious injuries and can return to Eritrea, as planned, to continue his preparation for his next goals.

« This victory means a lot to me. Today, I worked all stage long to help Lorenzo Rota and Loïc Vliegen. I was that the finish wasn’t easy wasn’t easy when we passed the line for the first time. In the final kilometer I gave everything to bring Lorenzo Rota to the sprint and I had a little gap. At this moment, I thought about my victory in the Tour de France in Ajaccio, in 2013, where I also preceded the peloton. I gave everything without thinking and I crossed the line first. All emotions of the past couple of years came out, I’m so happy to win for my family. This feels so good. Last month, I was so close to the victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné but this time it was for real. This victory is also the proof that you have to continue despite obstacles, no matter your age. »

« Jan Bakelants worked really hard today to bring us to the front of each cobble section, just like Dimitri Claeys and Aimé De Gendt. In the final hectometers we shouted in the radio that he had a gap and that he had to give everything he had left until the line. Once I crossed the finish, I felt so happy that he took the victory. This makes my second place in the classification even nicer. With the help of our teammates, Lorenzo and I tried everything to win the general classification, even though we knew that Robert Stannard is fast and that the parcours of this fifth stage suited him. It is already the fifth time that I finish among the first eleven riders in the classification of the Tour de Wallonie. The courses often suit me and usually I perform well in this period. Last winter we established my programme taking into account my allergy problems in April and May. Our strategy with focus on the first two months of the season and this period already resulted in four podiums, next to my work for my teammates. »



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