Van Avermaet praises winner Hushovd
The men's world championship race might have had a different winner and a different outcome, Belgian Björn Leukemans claimed, if only Italian Filippo Pozzato hadn't sat on the Belgians' wheels.
“After my attack on the penultimate lap, we were in a group of six. Why didn't Filippo Pozzato work with us? If he had done so, we could have gone. Now he has nothing,” Leukemans said, according to Sporza.be.
Leukemans and Greg Van Avermaet were the last two teammates with leader Philippe Gilbert, who attacked out of the lead group on the final lap. Too early, according to Leukemans.
“In the final lap, on the last climb, Philippe would have been better off waiting to attack. But it's no use crying over spilt milk. We came to win. We did not win, but we can be proud of the race we rode.”
Gilbert had been the top favorite going into Sunday's race, but finished only 18th, in the same time as winner and new world champion Thor Hushovd. Leukemans finished seven seconds later, as 20th.
Best Belgian on the day was Van Avermaet, who finished fifth, between Pozzato and Spain's Oscar Freire. “We did everything we could to bring Gilbert up to a good position. It was a success, but he came up a bit too short.”
After Gilbert's unsuccessful attack, it was left to Van Avermaet to go for the win in the bunch sprint. “Gilbert had given everything, so I knew I could go for the sprint. Hushovd was very strong. He was way behind me, when he started his sprint. And I must say, he went by very smoothly."
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