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NewsWire: Voeckler plays mind games; Mollema wants rain

In our daily NewsWire, we bring you a collection of the intriguing stories from newspapers, journals and elsewhere around the world of competitive cycling. Pour your coffee, mute your phone and read on.

Voeckler: ‘I just wanted a minute’ — La Dernière Heure

Europcar star Thomas Voeckler was pleased with his win at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, happy to have this first victory of the season under his belt. His tactics toward victory were simple: head off the front at the right moment and gain a minute as soon as possible.

“With these dangerous conditions, we had to be alert all day,” Voeckler said. “When I left behind other escapees, I initially hoped to bring some others with me. This was not the case, so I went alone. My goal was the have a minute lead as soon as possible ahead of my closest pursuers. This is the kind of [advantage] that plays on the minds of opponents. It worked, as the results show.”

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Pieter Serry surprises at Brabantse Pijl — Gazet Van Antwerpen

Along with the sixth-place finish of American Garmin-Barracuda neo-pro Alex Howes, the biggest surprise of Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl was young Pieter Sperry from Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, who rode in just behind Oscar Freire (Katusha) for third place.

The 23-year-old is just setting off on his career, but already showed great strength to ride with the favorites in a semi-classic.

“I could slip along with Oscar Freire when he began to hunt for second place,” said Sperry. “In the sprint, he got away from me but I am happy with that last podium place. I had a good day today and did not really have to dig deep to compete with the big names.”

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Mollema hoping for rain — NUsport

Dutchman Bauke Mollema enters the upcoming triumvirate of hilly classics has one of Rabobank’s protected men, coming off a solid third-place performance at the Tour of the Basque Country where he rode to second in a wet, nasty final time trial. He hopes for those conditions again this weekend, believing that rain would give him an advantage.

“I would not mind if it rains on Sunday,” he said. “It makes the course heavier, and with all the corners it would make a difference.”

“I’m in good shape,” he added. “And the climbs here suit me.”

Mollema named Joaquím Rodriguez (Katusha), Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge), and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) as favorites for victory.

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