Moreno Hofland finally opened LottoNL-Jumbo’s 2015 account when he finished off excellent teamwork by winning the second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. After Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) had launched a late attack, he came off Matteo Pelucci’s (IAM) wheel to hold off the Italian and Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin) and take the win while Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) defended the overall lead.
The 2015 season has been a frustrating affair for the LottoNL-Jumbo team. The Dutch squad focused everything on a big result in the classics but a combination of bad luck and bad legs took Sep Vanmarcke out of contention in the biggest races.
That meant that the Dutch team started the month of May as the only WorldTour team without a single victory and the management had started to come under pressure from the media who kept asking what had gone wrong. The leaders referred to a combination of illness and injuries and hoped that their fortunes would soon change.
After they had again been hit by bad luck in the opening stage where Steven Kruijswijk crashed out of contention, the team hoped to bounce back on the second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. With a completely flat course, the team hoped that Moreno Hofland would be able to change their fortunes in a bunch sprint.
All day the team worked hard on the front of the peloton but it turned out to be hard to bring it back to a battle for the sprinters. As they started the final flat 20.5km circuit around York, a strong two-rider break with Bert De Backer (Giant-Alpecin) and Mark McNally (Madison) were still 1.05 ahead and they proved to be hard to catch.
LottoNL-Jumbo combined forces with IAM and NFTO on the front and Maarten Wynants, Nick van der Lijke and Vicente Reynes all took some huge turns. With 13km to go, the gap was still 50 seconds though and the chasing teams were starting to run out of power.
Roompot moved to the front to join forces with the three chasing teams but with 10km to go, they still had to close a 40-second gap. Meanwhile, riders were now getting distanced due to the fast pace.
With 5.5km to go, McNally was unable to keep up with De Backer who was riding amazingly strongly with a 10-second advantage over the peloton that was led by Roompot. Moments later, LottoNL-Jumbo put three riders on the front and they managed to bring McNally.
The fight for position was huge as they entered the final 3km but it was BMC who came out on top. Moments later, a Cofidis rider took off and he managed to bridge the gap to De Backer with 1.5km to go.
LottoNL again hit the front and just after the flamme rouge, they caught the two leaders. That’s when Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) made a strong move and with the sprint trains having run out of power, he quickly got a big gap.
IAM hit the front and it was their big work which brought Van Avermaet back with just 200m to go. At this point, Harry Tanfield (JLT) launched a long sprint with Matteo Pelucchi and Hofland on his wheel but he was quickly passed when the two WorldTour sprinters launched their sprints simultaneously. The Dutchman turned out to be the fastest and he won the stage with a solid margin over the Italian and Rmaon Sinkeldam.
Lars Petter Nordhaug finished safely in the bunch and even extended his lead as Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) missed a split in the finale. Hence, he goes into the final stage with a 10-second advantage over Samuel Sanchez (BMC) and Voeckler but he can expect to get under pressure on the hilly route in the Yorkshire hills. The riders will tackle a total of six short, steep climbs, with the final of them coming just 14km from the finish in Leeds.
A flat stage
After yesterday’s hilly opener, the riders faced a significanly easier stage on day 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire. The course brought the riders over 174km from Selby to York and was almost completely flat. It only included two smaller climbs in the first half but after the feed zone at the midpoint, there were no challenges at all. The race ended with two laps of a flat 20.5km finishing circuit around York and so was expected to be one for the sprinters.
The riders had nice dry conditions when they gathered in Selby for the start of the stage and they got the race off to a fast start with lots of attacks. In the early part, a strong 18-rider group with Philip Deignan (Sky) briefly went clear but that move was too dangerous and quickly brought back.
The break is formed
Instead an 8-rider group was formed when Andy Tennant (Wiggins), Bert De Backer (Giant-Alpecin), Stijn Steels (Topsport), Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Matthew Brammeier (MTN-Qhubeka), Ivar Slik (Roompot) and Mark McNally (Madison) got clear. They quickly started to build an advantage that reached 3.25 after 27km of racing and it even reached 5.15 7.5km later when McNally led Steels, Edet and Slik over the top of the first climb. The Brit was again fastest at the top of the second climb where he beat Edet, Tennant and Brammeier.
At this point, the gap reached a maximum of 6.40 but now the peloton started to chase. Meanwhile, Slik beat Edet and De Backer in the first intermediate sprint.
The chase gets organized
Team Sky had upped the pace and were joined by IAM. Those two teams worked well together to bring the gap down to 5.20 at the 100km mark.
The British team could not take a back seat and several teams joined forces with the Swiss on the front. LottoNL-Jumbo, NFTO and Cult were all committed to the chase and riders like van der Lijke, Wynants, Rasmus Quaade and Martin Mortensen were taking some huge turns.
The break splits up
With 50km to go, the gap was only 3 minutes and now Bernaudeau decided to sit up from the break. 10km later Slik beat Edet and Steels in the second intermediate sprint at the start of the first lap on the finishing circuit. At this point the gap was 2.30.
IAM, Cult, NFTO and LottoNL were riding hard while Sinkeldam had to fight his way back from a puncture with 36km to go. As they entered the final 30km, the gap was only 1.20.
With 26km to go, the attacking started in the break and it was McNally and De Backer who managed to get clear. Edet tried to join them and was followed by Slik and Steels but the five chasers found back together before they decided to sit up. Moments later, they crossed the finish line to start the final lap and 3km later the chasers were back in the fold, setting the scene for the exciting finale.
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