In His Own Words: Jens Keukeleire on Tour de San Luis Stage One

Mon 20 Jan 2014

Phil Gaimon (Garmin Sharp) won the opening stage of the Tour de San Luis from an early breakaway of five riders that formed shortly after the peloton was given the official start. Gaimon outfoxed Argentinean Emiliano Contreras (Selection Argentina) to the line in Villa Mercedes to take his first win for his new team.

Crossing the line 3’52 after Gaimon, Christian Meier was the top finish for ORICA-GreenEDGE in seventh place. The Canadian, who makes no secret of his propensity to spend time up the road and away from the bunch, was part of a three rider chase group that formed when it became clear the breakaway riders would likely contest the stage amongst themselves.

Jens Keukeleire finished safely ensconced in the peloton. Alongside his teammates, Keukeleire came to the finish line 4’35 after Gaimon and 43” behind Meier. The Belgian describes the day as “a strange race” and, in his own words, explains why below.

At the start, the early break went really fast. It was mostly South American riders, which is what you would expect. After the break went, it was a typical start of the race. We wait around for a little bit until someone decides it’s time to ride.

QuickStep took charge of the chase, but they only put one guy up. After one hour, they said: “If nobody is helping us, we’re not riding.” Nobody helped, so they stopped riding.

That’s when it got to be a really strange situation. Nobody wanted to ride anymore. I think it was that moment when Christian and two other riders jumped away from the bunch. In the end, they got close to the first group, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap.

Eventually the bunch did start to ride again. It was too late at that point. The first group had 12 minutes on us already. We brought them down to under five minutes in the end.

It was a strange race and a really strange situation. I’ve never had a day like this before where nobody wants to ride and the break stays away on such a flat stage. It flat nearly all day today. It should have been a stage for the sprinters.

The heat was the main thing that made today hard. My SRM said it was 45°C pretty much the whole day. Halfway through the stage, we had some tailwind. That always makes it feel even warmer because we can’t feel any wind anymore. The heat was the biggest challenge today.

I have no idea what to expect from the rest of the race after today. We’ll look to see if there are any really good climbers that finished in that first group. If there are, today could have been an important day for the overall classification.

As strange as today was, I enjoyed it. It’s nice to be back racing again. I haven’t raced since Hamburg last August, so it’s been almost five months. I’m always happy to start the season again.