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Belgian gets a perfect lead-out from his team and takes a convincing win ahead of Nizzolo and Napolitano while Kolobnev responds to the late attacks to safely defend his leader's jersey with the queen stage coming up tomorrow

Photo: Sirotti

KENNY DE HAES

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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TOUR DE WALLONIE 

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23.07.2013 @ 16:55 Posted by Frederik Palle Pedersen

Kenny Dehaes (Lotto-Belisol) continued what has been an amazing season so far when he won the fourth stage of the Tour de Wallonie in a bunch kick today. He convincingly held off Giacomo Nizzolo (Radioshack) and Danilo Napolitano (Accent) to take his 5th win of the season while Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) responded to dangerous late attacks from Paul Martens (Belkin) and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil) to safely defend his leader's jersey with just one very hard stage still left.

 

Prior to this season, Kenny Dehaes appointed a new coach as he wanted to find back his best sprint legs that had allowed him to pick up wins earlier in his career. The decision paid off as he suddenly started to mix it up at the pointy end of the bunch kick again, the Belgian claiming 4 wins in the first half of the season.

 

Today he showed that he has no intentions of slowing down in the final part of 2013 as he added another victory to his tally in the fourth and penultimate stage of the Tour de Wallonie. Having benefitted from a very strong lead-out from teammate Jonas Vangenechten he took a clear win ahead of last year's overall winner Giacomo Nizzolo and Danilo Napolitano who won three stages one year ago.

 

Race leader Alexandr Kolobnev came under attack on the Cote d'Ittre whose top was located just 6,7km from the finish as Paul Martens and Marco Marcato accelerated on the slopes. The Russian responded himself and as it all came back together, he takes his 6-second lead over second-placed Anthony Geslin (FDJ) into tomorrow's final stage which is also the queen stage. Two late passages of the steep Mur de Thuin - the last one coming only 600m from the line - should make for a very exciting finale to the Belgian race.

 

An aggressive start

The 191,7km stage was the longest of the race and despite a hard start with a 19km uphill stretch to kick off the race, the stage was mostly flat. The Cote d'Ittre could shake up things a bit in the finale but the most likely outcome was a bunch sprint.

 

The race was off to its usual aggressive start. Reinier Honig (Crelan) and Loic Pestiaux (Color Code) were the first to try and they were joined by Jack Bobridge (Belkin) before being reeled in by BMC and Topsport Vlaanderen. Next to try his hand was Gilles Devillers (Crelan) who got company from Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil), Jerome Kerf (Color Code) and Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis) but that move did also come to nothing.

 

A dangerous move

Things got more dangerous when KOM leader Tiago Machado (Radioshack) and talented Tim Wellens (Lotto) attacked and as they were joined by first Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen) and later also Bobridge and Laurent Evrard (Wallonie), a very strong quintet had formed That was too much for the peloton to accept and so that move was also reeled in.

 

The next riders to try were Alexandre Pichot (Europcar) and Christophe Premont (Crelan). Those two were chased by Jerome Gilbert (Accent), Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis), Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Ludwig De Winter (Color Code) and the two groups ultimately came together to form a 6-rider lead group.

 

Battle for bonus seconds

Declercq and Ghyselinckx were, however, only 35 seconds down on race leader Alexandr Kolobnev and so they were never allowed more than a 1-minute gap. The main goal for the two GC contenders were the bonus seconds at the first intermediate sprint and so they attacked to leave their four companions behind. Ghyselinckx beat Declercq to pick up 3 seconds while Declercq had to settle for two. Premont led the chase group over the line a few seconds later.

 

It was now mission accomplished for Ghyselinck and Declercq and so they fell back to the peloton. With four non-dangerous riders up the road, the peloton decided to take it easy, and the quartet had at one point a massive advantage: 13.42.

 

The chase gets organized

That was when the sprint teams decided to up the pace, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step of stage 2 winner Tom Boonen and the Vacansoleil squad of Romain Feillu were the first to start chasing. Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Willem Wauters (Vacansoleil) did most of the early work and the gap now started to come down quickly.

 

Premont was on a mission to defend his teammate Stijn Steels' lead in the sprints competition and he was allowed to pick up maximum points in the second intermediate sprint uncontested. Behind, Wauters had stopped chasing while Dehaes gave the first indication of his intentions as he asked his teammate Jurgen Van De Walle to join Rabon on the front.

 

More teams start to chase

With 55km to go, the chase got more power as BMC added Sebastian Lander and Garmin-Sharp Alex Rasmussen to the team of workers. Those two squads hoped to see yesterday's winner Greg Van Avermaet and Tyler Farrar perform in the sprint respectively.

 

Another 20km down the road, Wauters also started to chase again and the front group was now really getting tired. With the gap down to just 1.20, the peloton decided to slow down to avoid an early catch but the gap only went back up to 1.30.

 

Premont goes off on his own

With 29km to go, Premont decided it was time to go off on his own and he left his companions behind. Pichot hesitated a bit but decided to set off in pursuit while Gilbert gave up and fell back into the peloton.

 

Pichot got to within 8 seconds of Premont but then started to fade and the gap now grew very quickly. De Winter was also caught by the peloton as Premont and Pichot passed the site of the final intermediate sprint at the 20,9km to go mark.

 

Another battle for bonus seconds

That left 1 second for the sprinters to pick up and Laurens De Vreese (Topsport) and Pieter Serry (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) battled it out in a sprint. The latter came out triumphant to move a little closer to the top 10 on GC.

 

Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took a turn on the front before he once again left the chasing duties to Van De Walle, Rabon and Lander. With 14 km to go, it was over for Premont and so it was now all back together.

 

Battle for position

As the battle for position for the final climb intensified, Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil) took a huge turn on the front until Cofidis took over. When the peloton hit the climb, it was, however, FDJ who was in control.

 

Edwig Cammaerts (Cofidis) launched an immediate attack and was chased by Dennis Van Winden (Belkin) when Marcato and Martens suddenly accelerated. Kolobnev was quick to respond and those three overtook the two attackers who fell back into the peloton.

 

An organized chase

At the top of the climb, the trio had a small gap and they cooperated well while the chase started to get organized behind. Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) did much of the work and with 5km to go, it was back together.

 

BMC and Omega Pharma-Quick Step still joined forces to set the pace as Serry, Kristof Vandewalle and Yannick Eijssen all took huge turns on the front. Suddenly, Serry even gapped the peloton but Radioshack took control to bring him back.

 

Radioshack in control

The Luxembourgish team was now lined out on the front with Ben Hermans and Stijn Devolder both doing a good job for Nizzolo. However, they lost out when Vandenbergh moved ahead to set up Boonen for the sprint.

 

Danilo Hondo (Radioshack) showed his experience by regaining control and made sure to leave Nizzolo in the wheel of Dehaes when his lead-out man Vangenechten accelerated furiously. A little further down the road Dehaes opened his own sprint and neither Nizzolo nor Napolitano had the power to pass him. Raymond Kreder (Garmin-Sharp) came very fast from a long way behind but ran out of metres and had to settle for 4th.

 

Result:

1. Kenny Dehaes 4.57.14

2. Giacomo Nizzolo

3. Danilo Napolitano

4. Raymond Kreder

5. Romain Feillu

6. Davide Appollonio

7. Michael Van Staeyen

8. Luca Paolini

9. Olivier Chevalier

10. Nico Sijmens

 

General classification:

1. Alexandr Kolobnev 18.39.51

2. Anthony Geslin +0.06

3. Greg Van Avermaet +0.22

4. Bjorn Thurau +0.28

5. Jean-Pierre Drucker +0.31

6. Tim Wellens

7. Laurens De Vreese +0.32

8. Jan Ghyselinck

9. Marco Marcato +0.33

10. Tiago Machado

 

Points classification:

1. Romain Feillu 35

2. Greg Van Avermaet 33

3. Giacomo Nizzolo 28

4. Danilo Napolitano 28

5. Alexandr Kolobnev 25

 

Mountains classification:

1. Tiago Machado 80

2. Tim Wellens 58

3. Ben Gastauer 40

4. Laurent Mangel 24

5. Gilles Devillers 18

 

Sprints classification:

1. Stijn Steels 25

2. Christophe Premont 20

3. Laurent Mangel 10

4. Tom Dernies 7

5. Tim Wellens 6

 

Teams classification:

1. FDJ 56.00.55

2. Radioshack +0.06

3. Topsport Vlaanderen +0.23

4. Lotto-Belisol

5. Cofidis +0.55

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