Rabobank's Pieter Weening finished 24th in the Flèche Wallonne and was the best rider of the Dutch team at over half a minute behind Spanish winner Alejandro Valverde. According to team director Erik Breukink, it wasn't a surprise not to have one of his riders in the top of the rankings.
"We had a good team here, but a team without a real specialist for that last climb," Breukink explained. "So we had to try something else. Oscar (Freire) wanted to try and surprise the rest. He was given the liberty to do so, but unfortunately only one man went with him, Moos. And on top of that Liquigas reacted immediately. The gap didn't increase quickly enough and then you know it's done."
It hadn't been a planned tactic to let Freire break the race open and let the competition work. "Not consciously," added Breukink. "It doesn't work like that. On television it comes across as if it were a computer game. The team director presses a button and the riders get up on the pedals. It doesn't work like that at all. People within racing, the real insiders, will experience the race completely different to how it shows on television."
For the Rabobank team, it didn't turn out to be the best day. "You could notice it the whole day," Breukink continued. "The boys were having a hard time in this race. No-one had an explicit top day and that's what you need to finish high up here. Erik Dekker can do this work for sure, but Erik didn't have super legs. The same goes for Thomas Dekker. Thomas really wanted to ride here but he admitted honestly afterwards that he didn't have a top day. It's not fair to put everything on a 21 year-old boy all the time anyway. It just wasn't meant to be for us today. You have to be realistic, you have to accept that."
Things don't always go the way it was expected, and that's not only so for Rabobank. "It's no different for other teams," the Rabobank team director said. "Quick.Step worked so hard for Bettini today, but he couldn't go with the best in the finale. It's just something that can happen. That's cycling. If we had another guy in the front with Michael Boogerd last Sunday in Amstel Gold Race, everything would have been good. It should have been Oscar Freire, but he didn't have a top day. Then you don't get any prizes, but that doesn't mean that the team's approach wasn't good."
Erik Breukink expects that Liège-Bastogne-Liège might see a similar result. "The difference is that we will have a specialist there of whom we know he is riding well at the moment," he commented. "If we can escort Michael into the finale properly, then he is another candidate for a top classement, but whether he'll win is another thing. Everybody grants him that big classic. We will do everything possible. Boogerd deserves to have such a top classic on his palmarès and to be honest, his name won't look bad on the list of honour of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, most certainly not!"
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