Trek-Segafredo continues to struggle for top results in the Spring Classics, with John Degenkolb placing seventh in the Tour of Flanders. Sport Director Dirk Demol tried to put a good face on it, saying "More was possible but if there's riders stronger than us, we've got to admit that."
At the team bus after the race, Demol told Cyclingnews, "As a team we can look back on a good race. We fell a little bit short in the end. We've got one shot left in Roubaix so we'll see.
"It was good to have Jasper (Stuyven) with the 14. It was a very strong group. Then there was the group of seven, with (Fabio) Felline in it after a strong move. Jasper fell a little bit short, we've got to be honest about that. Secondly, Fabio also fell a bit short too. Then, we had to be satisfied with seventh place. Overall, we've got to be satisfied with the performance from the team. I think we rode a good race. More was possible but if there's riders stronger than us, we've got to admit that."
Degenkolb, who has still not returned to the level he had before his training crash in January 2016, called it "one of the hardest Tour of Flanders I've ever done. It was just incredibly hard."
The German was surprised when the key move went so early. “Me personally, I didn't expect them to open the race that early. Everybody was talking about it but I just couldn't believe somebody would dare to go on the Muur," he told Cyclingnews. "We did a great job with covering the breaks and trying to stay close to Sagan and Van Avermaet, but at one moment my legs were not able to follow any more. From this moment on I was just suffering to try and come back somehow."
Degenkolb finished 53 seconds down, in the first large chase group. He came in for praise from Demol, who said, "I think it's his best ever result in Flanders. He's been top 10 before. We've got to be happy with that." Degenkolb's previous top finishes were seventh in 2015 and ninth in 2013.
Stuyven was part of the 14-rider group, which pulled away on the Muur and included most of the race favourites "It was ideal. It quickly turned out BMC and Orica weren't there,” he told Cyclingnews.
"I took some pulls but not too many. I was alone for my team and there were other teams. It wasn't up to me to do the majority of the work."
That group held together until race winner Philippe Gilbert made his decisive attack on the Kwaremont. "I actually thought that it was good that Gilbert attacked. I figured, let him go if he's that strong. Where is he going to go? That turned out to be Oudenaarde.
"I was quite good. During the finale it was up and down, better and then bad. Sometimes I had good moments but it wasn't super. I just had great fun today. It was a nice race."
Stuyven was the third Trek-Segafredo rider to cross the line, coming in with the large group at 3:30 down. He already had his sights set on his next goal. "Next week is Roubaix and that suits me better. I'm certainly looking forward to it."