Stage 3 of Flèche du Sud was almost tailor-made for Julian Kern, the 2011 U23 European Road Champion. The stage was 154 kilometres long and counted with several hard climbs and an uphill finish. “We had done a recon of this stage last week and I felt really good on the climbs of Luxembourg. I didn’t expect to win today, because Bob is our leader here, but I am obviously very, very happy.”
After about 50 kilometres into the race a group of 28 riders went clear, after several other attacks had been unsuccessful. LEOPARD TREK had Julian Kern and Alexandr Pliuschin in there. Bob Jungels was not part of the break, but remained in the peloton with overall leader André Steensen (Glud & Marstrand) and South-African Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Team MTN).
When the gap with the break grew to five minutes and the leader’s team did not show a real interest to chase, Bob Jungels attacked in an attempt to bridge across. Steensen and Golcer followed him and the three strong riders chased the break together.
Adriano Baffi: “I drove up and told Alex and Julian that Bob was coming, so they refrained from pulling too much. Unfortunately, the lack of signalisation people on the roads caused the three chasers to miss a turn and keep on going on the national road. They had been so close already and because of this mistake they were at five minutes of the leading group again.”
Eventually Bob and his two rivals bridged across to the break and the game was on. When Golcer attacked on a climb with about 15 K to go, Julian closed the gap and soon a group of five riders formed.
Now it was time for Bob and Alex to brige across to the front and LEOPARD TREK had three riders in the lead group of seven riders. Kern: “With such an advantage, we needed to play hard and take turns in attacking. When I went on a climb with five K to go, the other riders looked at each other. I was able to make a gap of about 20 seconds on the false flat that followed and on the final climb to finish I managed to make the gap even bigger, to 47 seconds.”
“I’m super happy with this win. I’m in a good overall position now, but tomorrow brings a tough 15 kilometre long time trial. I’m good on hard parcours, but I’m not such a good time trialist. But rest assured: I’m going to give it all I have.”
Bob Jungels managed to get sixth in the sprint behind Kern, at 46 seconds. He is the new leader of the young riders classification.