Q& A With Laurenzo Lapage on Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde Stage 1 & 2

Thu 28 Mar 2013

The results belie the effort. ORICA-GreenEDGE has been an active force during the first two stages of Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. Yesterday, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was the first across the line from a ten-rider group that broke away from the field in the run-in towards the finish. Today, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma QuickStep) won a scrappy sprint.

Although the team missed out in the top ten stage results both days, Luke Durbridge remains well-poised to make his mark on the overall classification ahead of tomorrow’s double day of racing. Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage answer questions about the first half of the race.

STAGE 1: Middelkerke - Zottegem

Q: What was the team’s plan?

We wanted to keep as many of the riders as possible in good position for the overall. Durbo [Luke Durbridge] was the most important in that regard. If the field came to the finish together, our plan was to race for Leigh Howard in the sprint.

Q: We saw an attack from Tomas Vaitkus about two-thirds into the first stage? What was the thought behind his attack?

At a race like this, the best way to stay away from trouble is to race aggressively. That’s the reason he made his move.

Q: We saw a lot of big names doing work– and we were on the front far more than usual. Why?

This is the same answer to the question above. We are on the front to stay out of trouble. Too many things can go wrong if you’re not in the first 10-15 riders.

Q: We saw a super scrappy finish once the attacks began during the final 12 kilometres. Tell us about it.

Peter Sagan forced a ten rider move. We missed it, but the guys looked around and saw that André Greipel [Lotto-Belisol] was still there with some teammates. They also thought QuickStep wanted to keep things together for Cav [Mark Cavendish]. They weren’t worried about missing the split because they thought other teams would bring it back for the bunch sprint.

Q: There were an unusual number of punctures on stage one. Were we impacted?

We only had punctures with Baden Cooke. Twice he punctures at bad moments.

Q: After stage one, there were a few time gaps. Were those concerning heading into stage two?

Nine seconds on a rider like Sylvain Chavanel is not nothing, but I thought it was certainly possible for Durbo to close that gap in the time trial.

STAGE 2: Oudenaarde - Koksijde

Q: Finishing outside the top ten today was probably not the desired result, but the team looked strong today. Were you happy with how they rode?

The team spirit was great today. The way I see Stuey [Stuart O’Grady], Jens [Mouris] and Cookie [Baden Cooke] riding gives me good feelings thinking about Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

Durbo and Heppy [Hepburn] are showing that they will come back to Belgium in the future with even bigger ambitions.

Tomas [Vaitkus] is just coming back from his knee injury and the way he rides confirms that he is recovering well.

Q: How did Luke fare today? Do you consider him well-positioned for the overall?

Luke got gapped in the sprint today, and he is now 17” down on Chavanel, who is the race favourite and defending champion. Luke can’t win the overall anymore, but he has a big chance to go for the time trial win.

Q: We looked like we were setting up for the sprint nicely today and then…..?

Our sprinters were not on their best day today, but the team did a great job to keep Durbo in position.

Q: How does the team approach tomorrow with two stages in one day to close out the race?

It means a very early morning and a long day for both the boys and staff. People think the short stage is easier in the morning, but it’s harder because everyone is sharper and more guys think they have a chance. It will be a fast race.