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Home favourite Bos wins the bunch sprint in the Ronde van Zeeland to break a 9-year drought for Belkin in their home race

Photo: Belkin Pro Cycling Team

MICHAEL VAN STAEYEN

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RAMON SINKELDAM

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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07.06.2014 @ 17:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Theo Bos (Belkin) brought a 9-year drought for home team Belkin in the Ronde van Zeeland to an end when he won today’s 2014 edition of the flat Dutch race. After his team had controlled the race all day, it all came down to a mass sprint where Bos emerged as the strongest, beating Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Shimano) and Michael van Staeyen (Topsport Vlaanderen) into the minor positions.

 

Since Bram De Groot won the race in 2005, Belkin (formerly known as Rabobank and Blanco) have been unable to stamp their authority on the Ronde van Zeeland, one of the biggest races in their Dutch home country. Going into today’s 2014 edition of the race, the team had made it clear that they planned to turn things around and was prepared for both a sprint finish and aggressive racing.

 

With little wind to challenge the riders on the flat course, the bunch kick was almost unavoidable and Belkin took things into their own hands to turn their preferred scenario into reality. All day they controlled the race – with plenty of assistance from Pieter Weening who was riding for the Dutch national team – and with 9km to go, they caught the final 4 riders from the early escape.

 

From there it was a big battle between the Belkin and Androni trains that tried to set up Bos and Kenny Van Hummel for the sprint respectively. In the end, the Dutchmen emerged as the strongest and they delivered their fast finisher perfectly to the line.

 

Bos didn’t disappoint his teammates and sprinted to his 6th win in 2014. Ramon Sinkeldam who recently won the final stage of the World Ports Classic, continued his recent success by takings second while the ever-consistent Michael Van Staeyen completed the podium.

 

Today’s one-day race was kind of a warm-up for the Ster ZLM Toer which starts on June 18 and has a number of stages in the same part of the Netherlands. Bos is set to make his return to that race as well and will face fiercer competition as both André Greipel and Marcel Kittel have announced their participation.

 

A flat race

Formerly a stage race, the Ronde van Zeeland was again held as a one-day race on a flat 197.5km route from Terneuzen to Goos. After an opening section between the start and finishing city, the race ended with a lap of a big 17.5km circuit and two laps of a smaller 10.5km circuit.

 

The 139 riders took the start under beautiful sunshine and as there was virtually no wind and very little elevation gain, it was hard to imagine another outcome on a bunch sprint. Nonetheless, the many continental teams had an offensive approach and the start was a fast one.

 

7 riders take off

At one point, it seemed that Michel Kreder (Wanty), Ike Groen (De Rijke), Brian van Goethem (Metec) and Maurits Lammertink (Jo Piels) had gained a decisive advantage but the peloton upped the pace and brought them back. Instead, Antonio Parrinello (Androni), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen), Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (De Rijke), Jasper Hamelink (Jo Piels), Bart van Haaren (Koga), Dennis Bakker (Metec) and Arno van der Zwet (Koga) took off and as the main continental teams had all made the group, they were allowed to build a significant gap. While van der Zwet won the day’s bonus sprint that reached 3 minutes after a bit more than 50km of racing.

 

Belkin had no intention of letting this opportunity slip away though and so they hit the front. They were joined by Weening and they combined forces to stabilize the gap. With 127km to go, they had already brought the advantage down to 1.20 where the kept it for most of the day.

 

Belkin and Weening in control

The gap yo-yoed up and down between 50 seconds and 1.25 for quite some time and at the first passage of the line with 37km to go, the 7 escapees were still 1.15 ahead. Now Belkin and Weening upped the pace though and with 22km to go, they had it down to 40 seconds.

 

Hamelink and van der Zwet were both dropped from the front group but the former managed to rejoin his companions. Vanbilsen and Bakker were the next to fall off while Kouwenhouwen and van Haaren took off on their own.

 

A bunch sprint

Vanbilsen made an impressive comeback and together with Parrinello, he rejoined the leaders. With 15km to go, the front quartet were still 30 seconds ahead but as Belkin took control, their move was doomed.

 

9km from the finish, things were back together and from there it was a huge battle between Belkin and Androni all the way to the line. The former team emerged as the strongest as they delivered Bos to his 6th win of the season.

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