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German powers clear of Debusschere in the bunch sprint on the final stage of the Tour de l'Eurometropole while the result is reversed on GC by virtue of a countback

Photo: Sirotti

CIRCUIT FRANCO-BELGE

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JENS DEBUSSCHERE

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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LOTTO-DSTNY

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MICHAEL MØRKØV

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TEAM SUNWEB

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06.10.2013 @ 16:15 Posted by Malte Philbert Jessen

John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) firmly marked himself out as a favourite for next Sunday's Paris-Tours when the German took his second win in the Tour de l'Eurometropole, formely Circuit Franco-Belge, in the bunch sprint on the final day. He held off Jens Debusschere (Lotto Belisol) in the dash to the line but the Belgian got the biggest prize of them all as he beat Degenkolb in the overall standings by virtue of a countback.

 

John Degenkolb had a difficult spring season where he failed to live up to his own expectations but the German has hit his best form for the final part of the season. Having already won the Vattenfall Cyclassics and finished 2nd in the Brussels Cycling Classic and the GP d'Isbergues, the German has been on a roll in this week's Tour de l'Eurometropole where he won the second stage on Friday.

 

Today he doubled his tally on the final day of racing when he powered clear of his rivals in the bunch sprint that decided the final stage. Having been perfectly supported by his teammates, he had no trouble holding off Jens Debusschere and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) to double his tally in the race.

 

The battle for the overall title couldn't have been any closer. Degenkolb had started the stage with a 7-second deficit to overall leader Debusschere but by winning an intermediate sprint, he had reduced the gap to 4 seconds by the time, they powered down the finish line for the final time. By finishing 1st and 2nd, the duo were awarded 10 and 6 bonus seconds respectively and so they ended the race equal on time.

 

Hence, the overall win came down to a countback. With Debusschere's placings adding up to 16 and Degenkolb's to 24, the Belgian could raise his arms in celebration, having won the first stage race of his career. By finishing 3rd on the stage, yesterday's winner Farrar completed the podium.

 

Many of these riders will stay in Belgium for Tuesday's Binche-Tournai-Binche before travelling to France for the Paris-Bourges and Sunday's final autumn classic, Paris-Tours. With today's win, Degenkolb has firmly positioned himself as one of the top favourites for the French race.

 

A hilly circuit

The Tour de l'Eurometropole came to a close with a 153,8km stage from Mons to Tournai. The first 50,8km were completely flat but the stage finished with 7 laps on a 14,7km finishing circuit that included a difficult climb. The first four times up the ascent, KOM points were on offer while the final three passages had bonus seconds at stake.

 

As it had been the case on the first three stages, the race was off to a fast start with several attacks being launched in the early part. Johann Van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka) was the first to get a slight gap but was caught a few moments later. Instead, Jerome Kerf (Color Code) attacked and he was joined by Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Zico Waeytens (Topsport Vlaanderen), Sitjn Steels (Crelan-Euphony), Jean-Luc Delpech (Bretagne-Séché) and Tom Dernies (Wallonie Bruxelles) to form a dangerous move. However, that escape was shut down by the peloton.

 

A group is formed

The next to try was Christophe Premont (Crelan) but he had little success. Instead, it was the subsequent attack by Maxime Daniel (Sojasun), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis), Boris Dron (Wallonie Bruxelles), Antoine Warnier (Color Code-Biowanze) and Wout Franssen (An Post-ChainReaction) that was the right one and those 5 riders were allowed to build up a gap that reached more than 5 minutes.

 

In the peloton, FDJ started to chase with Alexis Guerin and Laurent Mangel both doing a huge amount of work. They were momentarily assisted by Saxo-Tinkoff and Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil) but the bulk of the work was left to the French team.

 

The gap comes down

They accelerated hard on the first lap of the finishing circuit and brought the gap down to just 1.30. However, they decided to once again take it easier and the gap grew back up to 2.30.

 

With 70km to go, Accent.jobs decided to contribute to the chase and so they asked Thomas Degand to join the FDJ riders on the front. When they hit the climb for the third time, the Belgian was joined by his teammate Van Goolen and those three riders rode hard to significantly reduce the gap.

 

New attacks

Gael Malacarne (Bretagne) tried to attack and he was joined by Mitch Docker (Orica-GreenEDGE). However, Van Goolen and Degand kept the pace high and so Docker decided to fall back. A little later, Malacarne was also back in the peloton.

 

Accent kept the pace high until the next passage of the climb when Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) accelerated with teammate Bert-Jan Lindeman on his wheel. Lindeman launched his attack and was joined by Raymond Kreder (Garmin) and a Crelan rider and they bridged across to the front group. However, they had the peloton in tow and so things came back together.

 

A front trio is created

Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) launched a counterattack and he was joined by Dron who had been on the attack for most of the day. Those two riders were joined by Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil) to form a front trio while Christophe Premont (Crelan) and Adrien Petit (Cofidis) both made unsuccessful attempts to bridge across. For a long time, Jimmy Engoulvent (Sojasun) was in lone pursuit but never made the junction and fell back to the peloton. An attack by Loic Pestiaux (Color Code) was similarly ill-fated.

 

With bonus seconds on offer the next time up the climb, Belkin upped the pace with Rick Flens and he was replaced by Christopher Juul (Saxo-Tinkoff) when they hit the climb. They quickly closed the gap and all the main contenders were now well-positioned for the sprint.

 

Degenkolb takes bonus seconds

Argos-Shimano tore things apart with a brutal acceleration that allowed Degenkolb to win the sprint ahead of Jempy Drucker (Accent) and Gregory Habeaux (Accent). The German slowed down after the top but several riders exploited the situation to keep going.

 

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff), Geoffrey Lequatre (Bretagne) and Silvan Dillier (BMC) formed a strong quartet that was later joined by Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil), Sebastien Hinault (IAM), Youcef Reguigui (MTN), Ramon Sinkeldam (Argos-Shimano), Alexander Porsev (Katusha), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol), Klaas Lodewyck (BMC) and Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg (Argos-Shimano). However, Garmin-Sharp and FDJ had both missed the move and so Johan Vansummeren, Koldo Fernandez, Matthieu Ladagnous and Johan Le Bon combined forces to neutralize it before the next passage of the climb.

 

Garmin keep the pace high

Garmin kept the pace high on the climb but couldn't prevent Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen) from launching an attack. He crested the summit in first position followed by Jetse Bol (Belkin) and Petit.

 

Bol, Hoogerland, Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEDGE), an Euskaltel and an MTN rider kept going while De Vreese and Petit were in pursuit. However, Garmin had no intention of letting ting get out of control and together with FDJ, they brought things back together.

 

A duo gets clear

Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) and Tom Dernies (Wallonie) were the next attackers and the duo started the final lap with a slight gap. However, Garmin neutralized the move on the final climb, only to see Martin Kohler (BMC) launch a new attack.

 

On the top, Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil) beat De Vreese and Hinault in the sprint for the bonus seconds and shortly after, Van Keirsbulck, Yannick Eijssen (BMC), Hinault and Clement Koretzky (Bretagne) were off. Behind, Argos-Shimano organized a chase and when they were close to the front group, Van Keirsbulck and Koretzky set off on their own. They had no chance to stay away though and with 4km to go, all was set for another bunch sprint.

 

A crash brought down Petit and a number of other riders while Argos-Shimano kept the pace high for Degenkolb. Inside the final kilometre, Lotto Belisol took control for Debusschere but it was Degenkolv who powered down the middle of the road. Debusschere tried to come around but had to settle for second, thus locking up the overall win in the final European stage race of the season.

 

Result:

1. John Degenkolb

2. Jens Debusschere

3. Tyler Farrar

4. Graeme Brown

5. Kenneth Vanbilsen

6. Stefan Van Dijk

7. Danilo Napolitano

8. Theo Bos

9. Kenny Van Hummel

10. Evaldas Siskevicius

 

General classification:

1. Jens Debusschere 15.39.04

2. John Degenkolb

3. Tyler Farrar +0.09

4. Michael Mørkøv

5. Jean-Pierre Drucker +0.15

6. Laurens De Vreese

7. Kenneth Vanbilsen +0.18

8. Kristof Goddaert

9. Arnaud Demare +0.19

10. Jetse Bol

 

Points classification:

1. Jens Debusschere 72

2. Tyler Farrar 69

3. John Degenkolb 65

4. Kenneth Vanbilsen 39

5. Jempy Drucker 37

 

Mountains classification:

1. Frederic Amorison 53

2. Jelle Wallays 39

3. Boris Dron 22

4. Johann Van Zyl 19

5. Johnny Hoogerland 16

 

Youth classification:

1. Jens Debusschere 15.39.04

2. John Degenkolb

3. Laurens De Vreese +0.15

4. Kenneth Vanbilsen +0.18

5. Arnaud Demare +0.19

 

Teams classification:

1. Argos-Shimano 46.58.21

2. Belkin

3. IAM

4. Topsport Vlaanderen

5. Lotto Belisol

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