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After his team had made the race hard in the finale, Planckaert beat Wippert and Eijsing in a reduced bunch sprint on stage 4 of the Czech Cycling Tour; Ulissi took the overall win

Photo: Sirotti

BAPTISTE PLANCKAERT

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CZECH CYCLING TOUR

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DAVIDE REBELLIN

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DIEGO ULISSI

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SEBASTIAN LANGEVELD

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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WOUTER WIPPERT

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14.08.2016 @ 17:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles) continued his marvelous 2016 season by taking another victory on the final stage of the Czech Cycling Tour. After great work from his teammates to create a selection on the difficult finishing circuit, he emerged as the fastest in the reduced bunch sprint where he held Wouter Wippert (Cannondale) and Ivan Cortina (Klein Constantia) off in the final dash to the line. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) finished safely in 13th to take the overall victory ahead of Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale) and Davide Rebellin (CCC).

 

When he joined Landbouwkrediet in 2010, Baptiste Planckaert was a promising sprinter but he failed to achieve any major results during his four years at the pro level. Hence, there was no room for him in the professional field when his team folded at the end of the 2013 season and he had to step down to continental level.

 

However, Planckaert refused to give up and he has steadily progressed. During his two years at the Roubaix team, he gradually developed into one of the most consistent sprinters in the French races but it is the 2016 season that has really proved the full extent of his potential.

 

Riding for the Wallonie team, Planckaert has been unstoppable in the first part of the year. He won the Tour de Normandie overall and finished second to teammate Olivier Pardini at the Circuit des Ardennes. Furthermore, consistent placings in the Coupe de France meant that he quickly took the overall lead in the prestigious series and he extended it when he won the Tour du Finistere in the middle of April.

 

Riding for a Belgian team, Planckaert had to skip the GP Plumelec and Boucles de l’Aulne to do the Belgium Tour and this cost him his first place as Samuel Dumoulin won both races. However, Planckaert again proved his class when the series resumed after the summer break as he won the hard La Polynormande and this proved that he was in great form for this week’s Czech Cycling Tour.

 

However, the first part of the race didn’t work out for the strong Belgian as he missed out in the first bunch sprint but he had his eyes firmly fixed on the final stage where a tough finishing circuit was set to tire out the pure sprinters ahead of an expected reduced bunch sprint. He went into the stage with a clear plan and used his team to make things hard in the finale and then again confirmed his huge potential by taking another win in his breakthrough season.

 

Race leader Diego Ulissi and Lampre-Merida had everything under control and were never in trouble on the difficult circuit, preventing the strong CCC team from trying the expected move. Hence, the Italian lived up to his status as the huge favourite and secured the overall victory.

 

Planckaert had already shown his form at the Tour de Wallonie where he won the mountains jersey and today he confirmed that he will be a force to be reckoned with in every event this autumn. In the race that was Nacer Bouhanni’s comeback after his hotel altercation, the Belgian was the fastest in the uphill sprint at the end of a tough, selective race.

 

After yesterday’s queen stage, there was another hard stage on the menu on the final day. The short 157.1km stage brought the riders from Olomouc to Dolany and was mainly a circuit race. After a flat start, the riders again tackled the Ecce Homo climb that featured in the finale of the previous stage and then there was another small climb on the menu before they descended to the finishing city. Here they ended the race by doing nine laps of 9km finishing circuit that had a short climb (2.9km, 4.0%) and a downhill run to the final 3km which were flat.

 

Unlike yesterday, the riders had great conditions when they gathered for the start. Surprisingly, the break was formed right from the gun when Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk), Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (Metec), Wietse Bosmans (Beobank) and Michael Kukrle (Whirlpool) attacked in the first kilometre and they soon got a solid advantage.

 

The peloton regretted their slow start and soon started to chase, bringing the gap down to 20 seconds at the 7km mark where Bosmans won the first intermediate sprint. That allowed Pawel Cieslik (Verva) and Jon Bozic (Adria Mobil) to bridge across and a front sextet had gathered. The peloton soon slowed down again and so the gap had gone out to 3.20 at the 18km mark.

 

After 25km of racing, the gap was 5.30 and no one was showing any initiative in the peloton. That gave the escapees plenty of time to contest the second intermediate sprint which was won by Kouwenhoven. However, Lampre-Merida and Amplatz hit the front as soon as they started the first climb and so the front group quickly lost a minute.

 

Verschoor won the KOM sprint before the peloton reached the top 4.20 later. Lampre-Merida and Amplatz were still doing the work and kept the gap relatively stable as they went up the second climb where Verschoor again won the KOM sprint. Moments later, Verschoor continued to pick up points and prizes as he was the fastets in the third intermediate sprint.

 

After 70km of racing, the gap was still 4 minutes and it had even gone out to 4.40 when they crossed the finish line for the first time. The peloton had not really upped the pace yet and after their first lap, they found themselves 5.15 behind the leaders. A small crash involving three riders briefly created some chaos in the main group.

 

Amplatz slowly upped the pace and during the second lap, they reduced the gap to 4.00. The Austrian team did all the work and shaved another minute off the lead before they got to the 100km mark.

 

At the start of the fifth lap, the gap was down to just 2.00 and now the gap was coming down quickly. Six kilometres later, it was only 45 seconds and this prompted Kukrle to launch a solo move.

 

At the end of the fifth lap, Kukrle was the only survivor from the break, holding a 40-second advantage over the peloton which was now led by Ryan Mullen and Alan Marangoni (Cannondale). The American team was riding for Wouter Wippert who had been close to victory on stage 2.

 

With three laps to go, Cannondale had brought Kukrle back and it was Cannondale who had taken complete control with their entire team. As they started the penultimate lap, they sent Ruben Zepuntke off in an attack and he was joined by Bram Nolten (Parkhotel) to form a strong a strong duo.

 

The attack forced Lampre-Merida to react and it was Manuele Mori who hit the front for the Italian team. However, they were soon passed by CCC who tried to make a selection on the climb. The Polish team soon brought the escapees back and whittled the peloton down before they started the final lap.

 

Branislau Samoilau took some huge turns for CCC but he could not prevent Jhonathan Navaez (Klein Contantia) from getting a small gap before they started the final lap. However, he was brought back before they got to the top of the climb where Lampre-Meraida and Wallonie-Bruxelles had taken control.

 

Simone Petilli (Lampre-Merida) led the peloton over the top of the climb and the Italian team remained in control as they went down the descent. However, Wallonie soon gathered their entire team on the front and their effort paid out. After a dominant performance in the finale, the team delivered Planckaert to victory in the reduced bunch sprint where the Belgian held off Wouter Wippert and Tijmen Eising.

 

Diego Ulissi finished safely in 13th and so took the overall victory ahead of Sebastian Langeveld and Davide Rebellin. Wippert won the points jersey and Philipp Walsleben (Beobamk) was the best climber. Michal Schlegel (Klein Constantia) was the best young rider and Lampre-Merida was the best team.

 

The Czech Cycling Tour was the final major race in Eastern Europe. The next big race in Europe is the Tour de Limousin which starts on Tuesday.

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