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Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank)
Sánchez punctures, Breschel crashes at Brabantse Pijl
Brabantse Pijl-La Flèche Brabançonne didn't exactly go to plan for Rabobank, but with two riders – Laurens Ten Dam and Michael Matthews – finishing in the top 10 following an intense finale, the race was able to be salvaged somewhat.
"Today was a real race of attrition," Rabobank directeur sportif, Frans Maassen told Rabosport.nl. "The course is known as very difficult and the course was hard. There are not many riders who finished today. [Thomas] Voeckler is the deserved winner; he was simply the strongest today."
The race of Luis León Sánchez effectively hit a dead end with a puncture on the Hertstraat, as did Lars Boom who stayed behind to assist. Matti Breschel crashed, but escaped injury, while the normally reliable Paul Martens had an off day.
Daniel Schorn (Team NetApp) had been away from kilometre 32 but with Rabobank and BMC leading the chase, his initial companions Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Artem Ovechkin (RusVelo) where unable to keep pace, so the Austrian"s advantage was never more than just over five minutes.
On the finishing circuit Matthews, Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda), Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and Voeckler took advantage of a fall from aggressor Jérôme Pineau (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) on the descent of the IJskelderlaan and achieved a small gap on the peloton.
Ten Dam was then part a chase group that went after eventual winner, Voeckler who decisively attacked with two laps to go. The Dutchman finished ninth, 0:01:27 behind Voeckler, while Matthews was a further 27seconds back rounding out the top 10 finishers.
"They were certainly the strongest for us today," said Massen of Matthews and Ten Dam. "Laurens has tried jumping away, but that did not work. We were then hoping that the chase group would get some assistance, allowing Michael to contest a bunch sprint, but that was not to be...
"We're not overly pleased, but Laurens and Michael were still able to salvage something for us today with their performance."