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In the second bunch sprint of the Tour de Wallonie, Nizzolo beat Meersman and Dillier; bonus seconds allowed Meersman to take the overall lead

Photo: Trek Factory Racing










28.07.2014 @ 00:03 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) made up for yesterday’s disappointment by winning the second stage of the Tour de Wallonie in a bunch sprint. The 2012 winner of the race held off Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Meersman could console himself with taking the leader’s jersey off Jens Debusschere’s shoulders.


Yesterday Giacomo Nizzolo lamented a mistake he had made in the sprint which saw him come up short in the first stage of the Tour de Wallonie. Today he headed out on the hillier second stage with the goal of making amends for the disappointment.


The Italian who won the race overall in 2012, didn’t disappoint as he emerged as the fastest when the race came down to the expected bunch sprint. For the second day in a row, Gianni Meersman had to settle for second while young talent Silvan Dillier did great by sprinting to third.


At 193.1km, the second stage was the longest of the race and brought the riders from Peronnes-lez-Antoing to Perwez. A mostly flat first half preceded a tricky finale that included six categorized climbs, including the famous climb to the citadel in Namur, but a flat finale meant that it was expected to be a day for the sprinters.


Romain Zingle (Cofidis) failed to take the start as his cousin had been killed in a tragic accident yesterday while Barry Markus (Belkin) left the race due to stomach problems. Right from the start, Ludwig De Winter (Color Code), Sebastian Lander (BMC) and Julien Stassen (Wallonie) attacked and Sebastian Lander (BMC) was quick to bridge the gap to make it a front quartet.


While the Lotto Belisol team of race leader Jens Debusschere started to control the race, the escape was allowed to build up an advantage that reached a maximum of 7.45 at the 50km mark. Meanwhile, Lander made sure to win the first two intermediate sprints.


Wanty joined Lotto on the front and started to bring down the gap and things got a lot faster when Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) and Clement Koretzky (Bretagne) launched a surprise attack with 100km to go. They were quickly brought back but the gap was now down to 5.30.



The peloton had now reached the hilly zone where KOM leader Stassen made sure to score a lot of points by cresting the summit of the first two climbs as the first rider. Meanwhile, the peloton kept the gap stable at around 4 minutes.


On the third climb of the day with 51km to go, Jacobs and Lander attacked and they quickly dropped Stassen and De Winter. Jacobs crested the summit of the final four climbs as the first rider but Stassen and De Winter fought hard to stay clear for as long as possible, allowing Stassen to be third at the first three of them.


The peloton was riding a lot hard and with 35km to go, the two chasers were brought back. At this point, the front duo were just 1 minute ahead but they managed to maintain it for a little while.


Just after the passage of the final climb, Lotto Belisol brought the front duo back. At this point 18km remained and the riders were readying themselves for the final intermediate sprint. Here Meersman beat Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Zico Waeytens (Topsport) to secure important bonus seconds.


It was now clear that the stage would be decided in a bunch sprint and Lotto, OPQS and Ag2r all fought hard for position. In the end, however, Nizzolo emerged as the fastest to take his first win in the second half of the season.


Debusschere could only manage 5th and as Meersman has finished second twice in a row, the OPQS rider takes over the overall lead. He goes into tomorrow’s third stage with a 5-second advantage over Nizzolo and Debusschere.


The third stage is a very hilly affair that includes no less than 7 categorized climbs. However, the final 31km are flat and so it is expected to be decided in a sprint from a reduced group.



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