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HARELBEKE, Belgium (VN) — Every team has a tale to tell from the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, and Ineos Grenadiers’ was a story of a fightback.
The team found itself jostled out of position as the pace began to ramp with just over 90 kilometers to go and was well down the pecking order when Wout van Aert made his first stinging attack over the Taaienberg.
After regrouping on the flat section ahead of the next ascent, the team was forced into a lengthy chase to bring the leading group of eight close enough for Jhonatan Narvaez to ignite an attack that would see himself and Dylan van Baarle make the bridge over to the van Aert group.
While they couldn’t follow the final definitive attack, the pair ultimately finished sixth and eighth respectively in the first chasing group to give them some confidence ahead of the Tour of Flanders next week.
“It was super tough. I felt pretty good all day, we lost each other a bit on the Hotond, so we tried to keep ourselves calm and we made it back to the front luckily,” van Baarle told VeloNews. “I was a bit too far back on the Taaienberg so I don’t know exactly what happened at that moment. Everybody knows on the Taaienberg that someone is going to go, and I was not surprised that Jumbo-Visma went there.”
Ineos Grenadiers had little to no help as it hunted down the front group with Ben Turner doing a huge shift to help Narvaez and van Baarle mount the chase. Luke Rowe and Magnus Sheffield were also able to tag in, but it was the original trio that did the lion’s share of the chase.
Also read: Sheffield – ‘Guys attack from further out’
It was a big effort that both van Baarle and Narvaez could have done without, but the Dutchman didn’t think it made too much of a difference in the end.
“Of course, but you also burn some matches when you try to follow them. In the end, it’s not perfect but the team was super strong, and I was happy that they could close the gap and that Narvaez and me were in front,” van Baarle said.
Van Baarle’s lead into the classics has not been ideal after he got sick at Paris-Nice earlier this month. Unlike many, he was able to finish the race but he’s still feeling the lingering effects of it.
“After Paris-Nice, I was sick in the first days, but I think that it was for the whole peloton. I still have a bit of a cough, but I feel a lot better, thankfully,” van Baarle told VeloNews. “It’s always a bit weird coming from Paris-Nice into the cobbled classics and you don’t know how the legs are going to be on the cobbles, but luckily, they were good.”
Like many, van Baarle was not shocked to see Jumbo-Visma dominate the race and take home a 1-2. He had already seen first-hand what the team had been capable of earlier in the year and expected it again.
“They are super strong, and they have shown it already the whole year. If you see what they did in Paris-Nice then you cannot be surprised,” he said.