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Part of a strong trio, Quinziato dropped Leukemans and Lampaert on the penultimate climb and held them off to win the final stage of the Eneco Tour; Wellens won the race for the second year in a row

Photo: ©Tim De Waele/TDW Sport
















16.08.2015 @ 17:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Known as a loyal domestique, Manuel Quinziato (BMC) took a rare personal victory when he won the final stage of the Eneco Tour that finished at the top of the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen in the Ardennes. Part of a 14-rider breakaway, he finally dropped Björn Leukemans (Wanty) and Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) on the penultimate climb and managed to hold them off to take the victory. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) lost a few seconds in the uphill sprint but won the race for the second year in a row.


Manuel Quinziato is known as one of the hardest-working domestiques who always sacrifices himself for his captains in the classics and the grand tours. After he dropped out of GC contention yesterday, he was again expected to play that role in today’s final stage of the Eneco Tour whose uphill finish on the Muur van Geraardsbergen was tailor-made for his captain who won the similar stage last year.


However, the opening part of the stage turned out to be extremely fast and very hard to control for BMC and so they changed tactics. Quinziato was allowed to join the break and he found himself in a evry storng 14-rider group that got clear after the hectic opening.


BMC were confident in their strong Italian and decided not to bring it back. That proved to be a wise decision and Quinziato turned out to be the strongest and came away with the stage.


Quinziato had made a first selection the first time up the Muur and found himself with just Björn Leukemans and Yves Lampaert for company as he entered the final 10km with an advantage of 1.50 over the peloton that was being controlled by the Lotto Soudal team. They controlled the many attacks but had no interest in bringing the break back.


As they hit the Onkerzelestraat climb, Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) and Tom Jelte Slagter (Cannondale) tried to attack but a brutally strong Jens Debusschere shut everything down for Lotto Soudal. However, the aggressive riding had brought the gap down to 1.10 when a Topsport rider tried to attack on the descent.


Despite the relatively small gap, no one took the initiative and it was André Greipel riding on the front to keep the gap at 1.00 as they approached the penultimate climb of the Denderoordberg. That’s where Quinziato had planned to make his move and after Leukemans had set the pace on the lower slopes, he attacked strongly.


Quinziato immediately got a gap but after Leukemans had taken a short moment to recover, he made a great comeback. He got to within five metres of the lone Italian but just as he crested the summit, he cracked and allowed Quinziato to put daylight into Leukemans who dropped  back to Lampaert.


In the peloton, Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Magnus Cort (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) all tried to attack but no one managed to get clear. Instead, Tiesj Benoot and Debusschere took control for Lotto Soudal and neutralized an attack from Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin) before Jasper Stuyven and Boy van Poppel hit the front for Trek to set Fabio Felline up for the sprint.


Further up the road, Quinziato was starting to fade as he hit the Muur for the final time. Behind Leukemans and Lampaert were approaching him strongly and Quinziato lost ground quickly during the 600m of climbing. However, he managed to hold Leukemans off by 3 seconds while Lampaert suffered and had to settle for third, 5 seconds further adrift.


In the peloton, Van Avermaet attacked strongly right from the bottom and only Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) could keep up with him. They managed to put 2 seconds into Benoot and Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) while most of the main contenders lost another two seconds.


That was enough for Tim Wellens to defend his overall lead and win the race for the second year in a row. He ends the race with an advantage of 59 seconds over Van Avermaet while Wilo Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) is 1.17 behind in third. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) wins the points classification and Gijs van Hoecke (Topsport) takes the sprints jersey. Lotto Soudal ends a great race with a victory in the teams classification too.


With the Eneco Tour done and dusted, attention in Belgium and the Netherlands turns to the late-season classics, with Tuesday’s GP Stad Zottegem and Friday’s Veenendal classic being the first races. The WorldTour continues next weekend when the Vuelta a Espana kicks off on Saturday and the Vattenfall Cyclassics is held on Sunday.


A mini Tour of Flanders

After yesterday’s mini Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the race ended with a mini Tour of Flanders which brought the riders over 188.6km from Sint-Pieters-Leeuw to Geraardsbergen. After a flat first half with just one climb, the second part took place in the Flemish Ardennes where the riders would tackle a total of 16 hellingen. In the finale, they did two lap of a 25.6km finishing circuit that included the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg and the finish line was located halfway up the latter climb.


After two days in the rain, the conditions were dry when the riders gathered for the start of the final stage. Two riders were absent as Chad Haga (Giant-Alpecin) who crashed two days ago and Huub Duyn (Roompot) who is not feeling well decided not to do the final stage.


A big break

As one could expect in this kind of terrain, the race was off to a fast start with many attacks and a 15-rider breakaway briefly seemed like it would ride away. However, they were brought back before they reached the first Primus sprint where Edward Theuns (Topsport) beat his teammate Gijs van Hoecke, Jesper Asselman (Roompot), Oliver Naesen (Topsport) and Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Garmin).


Just after the sprint, an 11-rider group got clear when Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep), Manuel Quinziato (BMC), Marco Coledan (Trek), Moreno Hofland (LottoNL), Rudiger Selig (Katusha), Roberto Ferrari  (Lampre-Merida), Adam Blythe (Orica-GreenEDGE), Kristijan Koren (Cannondale-Garmin), Nico Denz (Ag2r), Dylan Groenewegen (Roompot) and Roy Jans (Wanty) escaped. Tim Kerkhof (Roompot), Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty) and Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) managed to bridge the gap to make it a 14-rider break that the peloton allowed to get an advantage.


Lotto Soudal and Astana take control

The gap grew quickly and had one out to 4.15 after 30km of racing. However, the peloton refused to get them get much of an advantage and as they hit the hilly zone after two hours of racing, the escapees were just 3.10 ahead


In the peloton, it was Lotto Soudal and Astana that dictated the pace and they kept the gap between the 3-and 4-minute marks for a while. As they entered the final 100km, the gap was 3.25. At this point, Enrique Sanz (Movistar) abandoned.


A fight for position

When the riders hit the Leberg, the first cobbled climb of the day, the gap was down to 3.05. It was Lieuwe Westra, Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) and Stig Broeckx (Lotto Soudal) who had been given the task of setting the early pace and they had brought the gap down to 2.05 as they entered the final 60km.


The riders were now approaching the Denderoordberg for the first time and this meant that there was a big fight for position. IAM and Trek featured prominently near the front and as they hit the climb, loots of riders were getting dropped.


Quinziato splits the group

The front group stayed together on the ascent but as soon as they hit the Muur for the first time, the group exploded. Koren made a big surge with Quinziato and Leukemans while Coledan, Selig, Jans, Blythe were distanced immediately.


This is when Quinziato tested his legs for the first time as he made a big attack. Leukemans was his nearest chaser while Preidler and Lampaert was further back, with Koren in fifth. Quinziato was first at the top to win the final Primus sprint but he was joined by Leukemans and Lampaert on the descent.


Demare attacks

In the peloton, Mickael Delage led the group onto the ascent before he launched his teammate Arnaud Demare off in an attack. Jempy Drucker (BMC) tried to join him but never made it and Demare crested the summit with a small advantage over a 30-rider peloton that had exploded to pieces.


Demare decided to wait for the group which was now 2.20 behind and it was again Lotto Soudal who took control with André Greipel before Marcel Sierberg and Broeckx started to set the pace. They quickly brought Michael Valgren and Delage back when those two riders attacked but didn’t respond when the Dane attacked again.


A strong chase group

On the Bosberg, Dries Devenyns (IAM) and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) joined him and they caught Jans from the early break. After the climb, Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx-QuickStep), Demare, van Hoecker and Johnny Hoogerland (Roompot) took off in pursuit and they caught the quartet to form an 8-rider chaser group.


The gap had gone out to 2.35 as they entered the final 40km and it was still Broeckx and Sieberg setting the pace. They allowed the gap to go out to 3.05 while the chase group got an advantage of 30 seconds.


Lots of attacks

Nordhaug and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty) launched a new wave of attacks that also included Jasha Sütterlin, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Pavel Kochetkov and Lasse Norman. However, Lotto Soudal brought everything back.


As the chase group hit the Denderoordberg, they picked up most of the early escapees and the group splintered. Demare and Jans were the first to get dropped while several early attackers also got distanced.


Trek take control

At the bottom of the Muur, the chasers were at 2.10 and the peloton at 2.45 and Lampaert was no longer working in the front group. It was Leukemans who set the pace all the way up the ascent.


Trek hit the front of the peloton with Danny van Popple while Devenyns made the chase group splinter to pieces. Only Van Hoecke, Geschke and Vandenbergh could keep up with him but Valgren and Hoogerland made it back on the descent. Furthermore, they caught Preidler from the break.


Boom makes a move

In the peloton, Jens Keukeleire (Orica.GreenEDGE) launched an initial attack but it was Lars Boom (Astana) who got clear, He was joined by Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) briefly joined him but they were brought back with 20km to go as Lotto Soudal again took control.


The front group showed no interest in the Golden Kilometre, with Leukemans/Lampaert/Quinziato, Leukemans/Quinziato/Lampaert and Quinziato/Lampaert/Leukemans being the order of passage. Meanwhile, Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale) and Laurens De Vreese (Astana) attacked from the peloton but Debusschere brought everything back.


The gap comes down

With 18km to go, the peloton was just 1.55 behind while the chasers only had an advantage of 15 seconds. Greipel was back of the front of the 30-rider group while most of the chase group decided to sit up. Van Hoecke tried to continue on his own though.


Coledan and Koren took some turns in the peloton but as there was no real chase, Kerkhof took off. However, he was passed by Simon Spilak (Katusha) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) who flew past Van Hoecke on the Onkezerlstraat. However, a strong Debusschere brought them back after the summit as they passed the 10km to go mark to set the scene for the finale.



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