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Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) in yellow
Albi stage an opportunity for Belgian rider
As expected Jan Bakelants (Radioshack Leopard) lost the yellow leader's jersey in the Tour de France on Tuesday afternoon during the team time trial. The one second bonus for the Radioshack Leopard team was not quite enough to hold off the top teams in the TTT-discipline. The American team lost nearly half a minute on stage winner Orica Greenedge after 25km of racing in Nice. Yesterday's stage winner Simon Gerrans was part of the winning team and the Australian took over the yellow jersey from Bakelants. After his loss, the Belgian realized he enjoyed the dream of many riders and promised to try and shine once more in this Tour de France.
Before the stage Bakelants promised not to go down without a fight. He showed up on the start podium in a completely yellow kit and gave all he had during the half-hour effort. "Completely in yellow. I actually think that looks nice. It'll be a nice photo to put on the wall at home," Bakelants said.
After crossing the finish line on the famous Promenade des Anglais the Belgian rider rolled on for a few more hectometres. When he finally came to a stop it was time to say goodbye to the maillot jaune. When asked by Cyclingnews about his feelings post-yellow a sweaty Bakelants was in two minds.
"Of course I'm a bit disappointed but I knew it was hard to keep it. The margin was slight and we did the maximum we could to keep the jersey. I have to thank my teammates for the two days. They protected me. It's over but the Tour ain't over. We're going to see. There's still some nice stages that are also adapted to my characteristics. I've got something in the back [of my mind] and I think you will see me in the next days in the Tour too. In Albi? Yes, I hope so," Bakelants told Cyclingnews.
"A second is not more than a second and that's not a lot. I took into account that it would be the last day in yellow. We rode as hard as we could and that wasn't hard enough. In fact it's the first time I really suffered during a team time trial. Everybody was riding on a high level and the heat didn't help. It wasn't the most demanding course but as a result everybody's just riding faster. I have to thank the boys because everybody gave all they had so there's regrets afterwards," Bakelants said.
When finding out Gerrans was the new leader he wasn't surprised. "I tipped Orica Greenedge for the win. Both Gerrans and Kwiatkowski would've been nice successors. Everybody here would deserve it. I'm glad that I could get the taste of it for two days. It'll be hard to do it again in the future because I'm not a top climber, nor a top sprinter and I can't win a prologue. I have to be grateful."
The only regret Bakelants had was that he didn't get to wear the yellow jersey during a stage for the sprinters. "If that's the case then it's possible to enjoy the jersey the most as you can sit on the wheels and spin the legs a bit. The two days I had the jersey it wasn't at all a spin ride. Admittedly it's been two hard days. Wearing the yellow jersey has a lot of consequences. There's a lot of responsibilities to it, also at the finish. That costs a lot of energy too."