Trek / Yuzuru Sunada
Fränk Schleck won his first National Championship since 2011, his fifth total, as he soloed to a last lap win in Luxembourg on Sunday. Trek Factory Racing also claimed four of the top five spots with Andy Schleck finishing in third, Bob Jungels fourth, and Laurent Didier fifth.
“The four of us were really strong today; it was a full gas race until the end. Only Ben Gastauser was capable of staying with us,” said Frank Schleck. “Andy was really strong today; he’s ready for the Tour [de France]. For me, after all what happened last year, and to be able to return to the WorldTour, this is just great! For my family, I never stopped training, they have always been my motivation. It is fantastic to be champion again – it’s a real honor. Also for Trek Factory Racing it is good that the jersey stays in the team. Laurent, Bob and Andy all worked super hard today, and we deserved to take it home.”
It was Trek Factory Racing’s championship to lose as they lined up with four riders for the 160-kilometer race that was comprised of 10 laps of typical hilly Luxembourg terrain. Andy Schleck went straight from the gun – knowing it was up to Trek Factory Racing to make the race difficult – and was solo for two laps before the peloton chased him back.
In the second half of the race Andy attacked again and once more found himself alone out front. Fränk Schleck jumped out of the bunch, drawing out Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale) who was quickly followed by Laurent Didier and Bob Jungels; together the four caught Andy Schleck and never looked back. The quintet pulled away, and despite numerous attacks from behind, for the peloton, the race was over.
In the final few laps the five were pared to three; Didier and Jungels fell back after pushing the pace for Fränk and Andy Schleck. Outnumbered, Ben Gastauer continued to follow the wheels of the pinstriped team, but when Fränk made his move on the last lap there was little he could do: Fränk crossed the line alone to win the Luxembourg National road title and a fistful of seconds later Gastauer outkicked Andy for second place.
“That was a hard one! I liked it! I am always motivated for this race,” said Andy Schleck. “I had 310 average watts, and that’s more than a Classic. I was very active, I felt really good. We knew that we had to make the race, and actually everything went as planned. We wanted to decimate the field and then try have one of the four of us win. When we had all four out front with only Ben Gastauser, we kind of had to win. It would not have looked good if we didn’t! I am so happy for Fränk. And now it’s on to the Tour!”
Since 2008 the Luxembourg National Champion jersey has always rested on the shoulders of teammates Fränk Schleck, Andy Schleck, Laurent Didier or Bob Jungels – a streak the team kept alive Sunday.