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After Topsport Vlaanderen had split the peloton into three groups, Greipel was delivered perfectly by his Lotto Soudal train to win stage 2 of the Ster ZLM Toer; the German took the overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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DANNY VAN POPPEL

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EDWARD THEUNS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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STER ZLM TOUR

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18.06.2015 @ 16:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) continued his great run of success in the build-up to the Tour de France when he won a very windy and aggressive stage 2 of the Ster ZLM Toer. After Topsport Vlaanderen had split the field into three different groups, Lotto Soudal had their entire sprint train in the first group and they delivered Greipel in the perfect way, the German holding off Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Danny van Poppel (Trek) in the sprint. With the win, Greipel takes the overall lead as Roger Kluge (IAM) missed the split.

 

While many riders prefer to use the Criterium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Suisse to prepare for the Tour de France, André Greipel always follows a different schedule. The German always uses the Tour de Luxembourg and the Ster ZLM Toer to fine-tune his condition as those two races offer more opportunities for the sprinters and both races have always been a happy hunting ground for the strong German.

 

This year Greipel has had a slightly different schedule as he did two weeks of the Giro but the German has again included the two short stage races in his schedule. With two stage wins in Luxembourg, he confirmed that he is ready for the Tour and this week he aims to continue his run of success in the Ster ZLM Toer where he faces key rival Marcel Kittel.

 

Greipel has won stages in the race in the last few years and this year he continued his love affair with the race as he won the first road stage of the race. He already did well in the prologue where he finished in the top 10 and today he was unstoppable in the sprint that decided stage 2.

 

However, it was no easy feat for Greipel to win the stage which was marred by strong winds. Topsport Vlaanderen attacked relentlessly in the crosswinds and their hard efforts made the peloton split into thre groups.

 

Greipel and lotto Soudal were attentive as the German was joined by Lars Bak and his lead-out train of Marcel Sieberg, Jens Debusschere and Greg Henderson in the first group. Kittel had failed to make the selection and race leader Roger Kluge was not there either.

 

Due to the fast speed and the small front group, the door was open for attacks in the finale and Ronan van Zandbeek, Guillaume Van Keisbulck and Jelle Wallays all tried to get clear. The latter did the best move but Lotto Soudal always had everything under control, bringing the Paris-Tours champion back with less than 2km to go.

 

From there, the Lotto Soudal train kicked into action and delivered Greipel in the perfect position. The German finished it off in perfect fashion, holding off Edward Theuns and Danny van Poppel.

 

As Kluge had missed the split and he picked up 10 bonus seconds, the German also takes the overall lead. He will try to defend his position in stage 2 which is held in the hilly Limburg province. The riders will tackle several climbs known from the Amstel Gold Race in the first half but as the second part is mainly descending or flat, another sprint is expected.

 

A flat stage

After the opening prologue, the sprinters were expected to be in action on stage 2 which brought the riders over 183.4km from s-Hertogenbosch to Rosmalen. After an opening section of 76.9km, the riders got to the finish for the first time and then they did one lap of a big 58.8km circuit. In the finale, they tackled three laps of a 14.8km finishing circuit that had a technical finale. The roads were completely flat but the wind was expected to play a role in the Dutch flatlands.

 

The riders had nice weather conditions when they gathered for the start and all riders who finished the prologue were present. Eugenio Alafaci (Trek) got it off to a bad start as he crashed in the neutral zone but he was quickly back on the bike.

 

Lots of attacks

The many continental teams were keen on going on the attack and so the stage got off to a fast start. First a 7-rider break got clear and they were quickly whittled down to Dion Beukeboom (Parkhotel) and Ronan Van Zandbeek (De Rijke).

 

Those two riders managed to build an advantage of 25 seconds while Michael Vingerling (3M), Kobus Hereijgers (Rabobank) and Jan Willem Van Schip (Baby-Dump) tried to bridge the gap. However, they never made the junction and were quickly back in the fold.

 

The race is neutralized

While Twan Brusselman (Jo Piels), Jasper Hamelink (Metec) and Vingerling tried to bridge the gap, an accident with a police motorcycle forced the race to be neutralized for a minutes. As the racing was resumed, the three chases quickly joined the leaders, forming a front quintet that was now 1 minute ahead.

 

The peloton was content with the situation and the gap quickly went out to 2 minutes. Giant-Alpecin hit the front of the peloton but they were not chasing yet and allowed the gap to go out to 5.35.

 

IAM in control

Martijn Tusveld (Rabobank) was the first rider to leave the race and now IAM decided to keep the situation under control. The Swiss team hit the front and started to slowly bring the escapees back.

 

When Brusselman beat Vingerling and Beukeboom in the first intermediate sprint at the first passage of the line, the gap was down to 4.15 and IAM continued their solid pace-setting. At the halfway point, the gap was already down to 3.35.

 

Vandewalle abandons

Gert Joeaar (Cofidis) crashed in the feed zone but managed to rejoin the peloton before Topsport Vlaanderen tried to attack in the crosswinds. They failed to split the field but brought the gap down to 2.15.

 

Jan Maas was the second Rabobank rider to leave the race and their bad luck continued when Mitchell Cornelisse crashed. At the same time, Kristof Vandewalle (Trek) abandoned, the Belgian not having recovered from his Giro crash.

 

The peloton splits

At the second passage of the finish line, the gap had grown to 2.30 and as there was a small crash in the peloton, it was even allowed to go out to 3.10. IAM, Trek and Lotto Soudal were now setting the pace but they had their work disrupted by another crash that forced Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) to leave the race.

 

Topsport Vlaanderen were relentless and tried another attack in the crosswinds and this time their efforts paid off as the peloton split in two big groups. The gap quickly went out to 15 seconds and as the second group continued to lose ground, they suddenly found them one minute behind the first group which had a deficit of 1.55 to the escapees.

 

The group splits again

Danilo Napolitano (Wanty) was dropped from the first peloton just before that group split again. The fast pace meant that the escapees were losing ground quickly and they were now just 1.05 ahead.

 

The first peloton was riding away from the second and third groups while Van Zandbeek attacked from the breakaway. He was passed by Beukeboom while the rest of the break was caught.

 

Bonus seconds for Lampaert

Van Zandbeek was caught before they got to the second intermediate sprint where Beukeboom took maximum points ahead of Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) and Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis). Moments later he was brought back as they entered the final 25km. At this point, the first peloton was 40 seconds ahead of the second group while the third group had lost 2.30.

 

The first group was made up of Vingerling, Van Schip, Naesen, Declercq, Schwarzmann, Tjallingii, Bak, Sieberg, Van Hoecke,Debusschere, Henderson, Hamelink, Brusselman, Van Keirsbulck, Aregger, Mol, van Staeyen, Vanspeybrouck, Wallays, Waeytens, van Goethem, Dempster, van Zandbeek, van Luijk, Zanotti, Greipel, Hofland, Lampaert, Danny van Poppel, Theuns, van Lerberghe, Campenaerts, Vermeltfoort, Beukeboom, Sinkeldam, Wesley Kreder and Raymond Kreder while Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep) and Gert Steegmans (Trek) tried to bridge the gap. They got to within 50 seconds but never made the junction.

 

Maes and Steegmans sit up

Vingerling tried to attack but he was quickly brought back by the speeding first group. At the start of the final lap, Maes and Steegmans were 1.40 behind while the second group was at 2.40. They continued to lose time and as they entered the final 10km, they had been distanced by 3.30. Meanwhile, Maes and Steegmans sat up and waited for the second group.

 

Van Keirsbulck made a solo attack but he was brought back before they got to the 5km to go mark. Instead, Van Zandbeek attacked again but he had no luck either and instead Jelle Wallays (Topsport) took off.

 

The Belgian got an advantage of 60 seconds but he had no chance against the Lotto Soudal train. As they entered the final 2km, he was brought back and from there the Belgian team controlled the race to deliver their sprinter to another win.

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