Stage 4 of the Tour of Norway has been marked by the long and courageous breakaway of Luxembourger super talent Bob Jungels who rode away after 30km with Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal), continued solo until he ran out of gas and eventually got reined twelve kilometres before the end. So he's been at the front for 125 kilometres.
"Bob is a big talent," his compatriot and team captain Fränk Schleck told Cyclingnews at his hotel in Geilo. "He's a very good rouleur but we must let him develop. Today he rode impressively but he still lacks experience. Firstly, it wasn't up to him to attack. But he's got a head on his shoulders. Mentally and physically, he's much more mature than his age (22). Do I look after him? Yes and no. He's from Luxemburg too and he's a very good friend. It makes me feel good that a young rider listens to me, I hope he does, but he can't be compared to Andy or myself. He's a different type of cyclist. He's very strong and he can go far."
Two days after the Tour of Norway, Trek Factory Racing's duo from Luxemburg will embark on a pre-Tour de France reconnaissance of the important stages. "The Tour de France team is not composed yet but Bob should be part of it," Schleck said. As for himself, he's gearing up for his ninth Grande Boucle at the age of 35.
"I see myself in the role of a domestique for Bauke Mollema," he continued. "The hierarchy in the team has to be based according to the most recent results (the Dutchman was sixth in 2013 and tenth in 2014). Then we'll have to see how the race unfolds but Haimar Zubeldia who has made the top ten five times and myself who has made the top ten three times, we'll go as team-mates.
"Our team has been unlucky this year with many crashes like Fabian Cancellara at the classics," he reminded. He himself suffered a leg injury in the inaugural stage of the Vuelta Andalucia that cost him to participate to Paris-Nice and to be competitive at the Ardennes classics. Trek Factory Racing obviously works for a more successful second part of the season with Mollema set to replace recently retired Andy Schleck after being transferred from Belkin.
"Leopard was a great team," Fränk remembered. "We'll never forget that we've finished second and third at the Tour de France. Now it's Trek. It's an American team with many nationalities and very wide horizons. The riders get on well. For now, we haven't had the big results we wanted but we hope to have put the bad luck behind us."
Fränk's ninth place in stage 4 of the Tour of Norway was an encouraging sign. "I wasn't happy yesterday", he said. "There was a very nice climb where I wanted to attack to put Bauke in a favourable position but I put myself in the red. Today, in a punchy finale, I can be satisfied with how it went. I hope to ride a good Tour de Suisse before the Tour de France."
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