Strong riding sees Keukeleire finish seventh in Tre Valli Varesine

Tue 27 Sep 2016

Vuelta a España stage winner Jens Keukeleire had an impressive ride today to finish in a respectable seventh place, in what was a hard and aggressive one-day race, Tre Valli Varesine. 

The 27-year-old Belgian displayed his top form, able to follow many moves to stay in contention in the hectic unpredictable finale.

Keukeleire followed an attack with just 2.5kilometres to go however, the race eventually came down to a reduced group sprint.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) proved to be the fastest on the day taking the race victory with Keukeleire fighting hard to claim seventh place.

Sport director Dave McPartland was impressed with Keukeleire’s showing and his aggression in the final kilometres.

“Today really showed Jen’s top condition at the moment,” said McPartland. “He is really motivated and only a year or two ago we would have said this course isn’t for him but today he showed that he is capable.” 

“He probably paid for it a little bit when he went with the move on the final climb. He could have afforded to be a little more patient but he chose to put it out there and really try for the win.” 

A breakaway of three-riders animated the first part of the race but were finally brought back and the race instantly lit up with numerous attacks starting with still 70kilometres left to race.

“It is a hard circuit but it was made even harder by all the teams,” McPartland continued. “The race was already on with six laps to go. Today for us was about being a little more conservative early on and Keukeleire did a great job in the final.”

How it happened:

The third race in a series of one-day Italian races, Tre Valli Varesine covered 192kilometres and began with a 77kilometre loop before nine-laps of 12.8kilometres finishing circuit.

Within the the first part of the race a group of three riders, Zak Dempster (Bora-Argon), Eduard Grosu (Nippo-ViniFantini) and Igor Boevl (Gazprom-Rusvelo) were given freedom from the bunch and rapidly established a sizeable advantage of nine minutes.

As the kilometres ticked down the peloton decided to control the distance and began to pick up the pace slowly closing in on the trio. 

By the time the escapees entered the final circuits their advantage had decreased to just over four minutes and it continued to drop with each lap.

The race approached four laps to go and the day was over for the leaders and instantly riders counter attacked which forced the pace to lift once again.

Vuelta a España stage winner Magnus Cort successfully made it into a new leading group of nine riders, however the group only survived for a short period of time before being drawn back to the peloton.

The attacking continued with a fierce pace being set as the peloton strung out and began to shrink with each lap.

The final time up the tough 1.5kilometre climb, Fabio Aru (Astana) lifted the pace which left just a handful of riders at the front to contest the victory including Keukeleire.

Surviving the explosive accelerations he remained at the head of the bunch and with just 2.5kilometres togo was able to followe a dangerous move.

As the front group continued to shatter then swell, Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) launched a late attack followed by three other riders but as the new leaders began to look around the chasering group with Keuekeleire rejoined them at 600metres to go and the sprint to the line opened up.

After the aggressive, challenging day the ORICA-BikeExchange rider finished in well earnt seventh spot. 

The next race for the Australian outfit is Llombardia on Sunday 2nd October.

Tre Valli Varesine results:

1. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) 4:48:18

2. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) ST

3. Francesco Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) ST

7. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-BikeExchange) ST