On Sunday, Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank Cycling Team cycled to a superb stage victory in the Tour de France. In the finale kilometres of the 14th stage, the Spaniard surprised four fellow breakaway riders, including top riders Peter Sagan and Philippe Gilbert, with a fierce attack at eleven kilometres from the finish. He quickly achieved a gap of twenty seconds, and was able to build the difference up to 45 seconds. Two kilometres before crossing the finish line, Sanchez was already able to celebrate his fourth stage win in a Tour de France. The quintet Sanchez left behind was formed by the remaining riders from a breakaway group of eleven that also included Steven Kruijswijk.
This victory may be considered a particularly successful feat due to the strongly depleted Rabobank team. With only four riders left in the tour, the team has been working particularly hard over the past days.
Sports director Nico Verhoeven explained, after having seen all of his four riders fighting during the first hour of the 14th stage, “We knew that this was a stage in which a breakaway was going to be successful, so all of them had to start working. But that was the way everyone thought about it, because it was a madhouse during the first hour again.” The peloton rode nothing less than 46 kilometres during that first hour. And that with the presence of a second category climb!
Steven Kuijswijk passed the top of that climb in the company of Peter Sagan and Sérgio Paulinho. Later, eight riders joined, with Sanchez among them. “Half of our team in a breakaway group”, Nico Verhoeven cheered.
On the last of two first category climbs, Steven Kruijswijk sacrificed himself for Sanchez first, after which the Spaniard gained speed. He broke away, but saw Sagan catch up and even gain distance on the last three steep kilometres, together with Sandy Casar and Gorka Izagirre. Nico Verhoeven was not worried, “I was okay with Philippe Gilbert. There were still forty kilometres to go. They would be caught up with again.” That did indeed happen.
Sanchez and Gilbert also ended up being luckier than thirty other riders – miscreants had spread tacks on the road of the final climb and thirty riders were left with flat tires, including Cadel Evans. The breakaway riders escaped this damage.
Nico Verhoeven was incredibly proud of his small team. “The character they are showing, the whole experience and the attitude. You can’t ask for anything else as a sports director. We’ve had some difficult days, but remained combative. This is the result.”
Sanchez himself said: “This was a very important victory, which was certainly achieved with the help of the whole team. Not only Steven, who helped me fantastically today. It is very nice to have a teammate with you during such a breakaway. But the team has kept together, despite all the setbacks and that also feels like an enormous support.”
“My crash in the beginning of the Tour and my wrist injury did make for a nasty start in this Tour. I really wanted to win a fourth Tour stage. Fortunately I was feeling better and better. That is why I was able to ride more actively day after day and especially yesterday gave me the confirmation that I am in top form.”
In a partnership dating back to 2008, SKINS has helped power Team Rabobank cyclists to over 225 race victories. Working alongside Team Rabobank’s Doctors and Trainers, the SKINS Research and Development team attend Rabobank’s annual training camp to educate the riders on the benefits of SKINS compression and fit the kit to the individual requirements of each team member.
SKINS congratulates Sanchez and the Rabobank Cycling Team on this victory against the odds, and hope they got straight into their RY400 long tights and tops after the stage to help them recovery!
Author: Kezia Everson
Copyright: SKINS Compression Garments Pty Ltd
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