Jan Bakelants was in tears after his attack out of a break group with barely one kilometer to go in Ponferrada ended with him laying on the road. The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider went down after smashing into a padded sign on a traffic island, the second time that his dreams of a Grand Tour stage win have dissolved with a crash in the finale.
The 25-year-old had spent virtually the entire thirteenth stage of the Vuelta a Espana in a large escape group. The group of 23 got away about 50km into the stage. Most of them made it together to the end, with the first attacks for the victory coming with 3 km to go.
With a little more than 1km left , Bakelants took off in chase of three riders in the lead, when he smashed into the traffic island. He sat on the pavement, saw his coach and burst into tears, according to Het Nieuwsblad.
“I sat in sackcloth and ashes. I was just about to join the three riders in front when the traffic island appeared. The road surface was smoother than expected. Ponferrada is a bitter memory for me, like L'Aquila last year in the Giro, where I was sure of winning.”
Bakelants finished 20th, three seconds behind winner Michal Albasini of HTC-Highroad.
In the 11th stage of the 2010 Giro d'Italia, Bakelants was also in a large, long escape group. He broke out of it with two other on the approach to the finish – only to crash. The group came back together, the victory went to Katusha's Evgeny Petrov and Bakelants finished seven seconds down in 10th place.