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Holding off the peloton by 10 seconds, Kreder beat van den Brand and Korevaar in a 3-rider sprint on stage 2 of the Ster ZLM Toer; Kittel beat Groenewegen in the sprint for fourth and van Emden retained the lead

Photo: Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick










16.06.2016 @ 18:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wesley Kreder (Roompot) became a hugely surprising winner of the second stage of the Ster ZLM Toer when the Dutchman and two companions denied the sprint stars the chance to battle it out for the victory. Having held off the peloton by 10 seconds, he beat Twan van den Brand (Jo Piels) and Merijn Korevaar (Rabobank) in a 3-rider sprint while a frustrated Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) had to settle for fourth after beating Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) in the bunch kick. Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) retained the lead.


Every year the flat second stage of the Ster ZLM Toer is the big Tour de France dress rehearsal for the biggest sprinters. André Greipel and Marcel Kittel always clash on the second day of the Dutch race and this year the stage was even more anticipated than usual as the emergence of Dylan Groenewegen added an additional level of excitement.


However, they all left the city of Oss empty-handed as it was loyal domestique Wesley Kreder who stood on the top of the podium when the dust had settled. With Lotto Soudal and Etixx-QuickStep starting their chase too late, LottoNL-Jumbo failed to bring back a front trio and it was Kreder who came out on top when the escapees battled it out for victory in a sprint. The result came less than an hour before Pieter Weening won the stage at the Tour de Suisse on what was a marvelous day for Roompot.


After yesterday’s prologue, the sprinters were expected to come to the fore on stage 2 which brought the riders over 186.1km around the city of Oss. First they did two laps of a flat 63.6km circuit while the final part of the stage consisted of three laps of a 20.3km circuit that was equally flat.


It was sunny and dry when the riders gathered for the start in Oss. Carter Jones (Giant-Alpecin) was the only non-starter as the rest of the peloton headed through the neutral zone.


Right from the start, there were numerous attacks and when the dust had settled, four riders had escaped. Wesley Kreder (Roompot), Twan van den Brand (Jo Piels), Jasper Hamelink (Metec) and Meijn Korevaar (Rabobank) quickly got an advantage if 1.20 and as the peloton slowed down Jaap De Man (3M) tried to bridge across. He got to within 30 seconds of the leaders but when he started to lose ground, he sat up.


The peloton took it easy and so allowed the gap to go out to five minutes before they started their chase. After one hour at an average speed of 40.6km/h, they had already reduced it to 3.30. When Korevaar beat Hamelink and van den Brand in the first intermediate sprint at the 60.8km, the peloton had again taken it easy and let the gap grow to 4.55.


While Vicente Reynes (IAM) left the race, Baby Dump and LottoNL-Jumbo led the peloton across the line for the first time 5.10 behind the leaders. Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) was doing most of the work to keep the gap stable at that mark for a long time.


After two hours at an average speed of 44.2km/h, the gap dropped to 4 minutes and stayed there for a while. That’s when the escapees reacted and with 80km to go, they had again pushed it out to 4.40.


At the start of the first lap of the finishing circuit, the gap was down to 3.35, with Tjallingii and Tom Leezer now doing the work for LottoNL-Jumbo. With 50km to go, it was 3.00 but the chase briefly got disrupted when rain and wet roads led to a big crash that involved riders from Drapac, Giant-Alpecin, De Rijke and Topsport. As a consequence, the gap went out to 3.25.


Jo Piels took over the pace-setting and while the riders from the crash rejoined the peloton, they reduced the gap to 2.20. LottoNL-Jumbo again took over and when Korevaar beat van den Brand and Hamelink in the second sprint at the end of the first lap, it had dropped to less than 2 minutes.


Surprisingly, the gap had gone out to 2 minutes when they entered the final 25km and the wet roads made it difficult to organize a chase. When they started the final lap, it was still 1.55. At this point, Jeff Vermeulen (Jo Piels) left the race.


Etixx-QuickStep were now working with LottoNL-Jumbo but the gap was only coming down slowly. With 10km to go, it was 1.20 and as they entered the final 5km, they still had 50 seconds.


The fast pace took its toll on Hamelink who fell back to the peloton but the front trio pressed on to keep a 25-second lead with 3km to go. That turned out to be enough to battle it out for the stage win and it was Kreder who beat van den Brand and Korevaar in the sprint. 10 seconds later Marcel Kittel beat Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) in the sprint for fourth, with André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) crossing the line in seventh.


The time gains were not enough to change the top of the GC and so Jos van Emden still has a 3-second advantage over Taylor Phinney (BMC). He will try to defend his position in stage 3 which has a tough first half that includes famous Amstel Gold Race climb like Cauberg, Bemelerberg, Loorberg, Camerig, Gulperbergweg and Eyserbosweg. However, as the final part I flat and descending, a bunch sprint in Buchten is the expected outcome.



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