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"I always try to improve and now I have got that WorldTour win. Of course I'm hoping to be selected for the World Championships and if I do, then the goal should be the podium."

Photo: Christian Kjær,


19.09.2016 @ 22:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) continued his rapid rise towards the top of the sprint hierarchy when he claimed the biggest win of his short career in the star-studded sprint battle on the first stage of the Eneco Tour. In a very confusing finale, he powered down the right-hand side to hold off a fast-finishing Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), take the stage win and move into the race lead. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) picked up four valuable bonus seconds with his third place.


We have gathered several reactions.


Groenewegen: Now the goal is the podium in Qatar

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to victory in the opening stage of the Eneco Tour today in Bolsward, the Netherlands. The Dutchman topped Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and world champion, and new European champion, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff). Groenewegen, thanks to the victory, took leader's jersey and the points jersey.


A breakaway of five rode clear early in the 184.6-kilometre stage. In the last 10 kilometres, the sprint teams had them and their crossed swords. Groenewegen, calm, focused on his team-mates. 


"I stayed on the wheel of Robert Wagner, and he kept me out of the wind perfectly,” said Groenewegen. “We continued on the right with the Orica train coming up. I jumped on the wheel of Caleb Ewan, but he was trapped. Nizzolo jumped, and I knew I had to take his wheel and I’d have a clear sprint.


"We worked hard and came to the Eneco Tour to win a stage. It is nice that we immediately succeeded on the first day. We have worked on this sprint train for seven months, but now we win at the highest level against the strongest sprinters. That makes this win special.


"Taking that WorldTour win for a Dutch team in my home country is very special. It's great to pull it off in the first stage. This is a nice reward for all the hard work. The sprint was long and hectic on a wide road. It was hard to judge your marks. In the final kilometre I came through with the Orica lead-out train and then followed Nizzolo. I turned out to have the best jump.


“The team worked well to help me get this win. It's a very important win, I took it in front of the best sprinters in the world. Winning a big sprint like that is special.


"This is a WorldTour race in my home country too and so winning feels really, really nice. We worked really hard together as a team today and in the end we did it. I'm very happy.


“Of course, I want to mix it up in the sprints the next few days. But first I'm going to enjoy this exquisite moment. It is always special to race at home, especially if you can win.”


Groenewegen says the stage was sprinter's heaven.


"Yes, this really was a sprint stage and there was hardly any wind. The entire top-ten is made up of sprinters, so that says it all."  


The Dutchman will take a lot of confidence from beating several world-class sprinters on Monday.


"I received a lot of criticism because it didn't work out in the Tour, but that was a learning process," Groenewegen explains. "I always try to improve and now I have got that WorldTour win. Of course I'm hoping to be selected for the World Championships and if I do, then the goal should be the podium."


"This is a milestone for Dylan and the team,” Merijn Zeeman, the team’s sports director said. “This our first WorldTour win with this sprint train. The long straight road and tailwind made for an unpredictable finish. You don’t want to go too early, but you still have to go. Today, the sprint trains could not organise and tangled constantly. "


The Dutch team in yellow and black broke up, but their leader prevailed.


“At one point, I thought Groenewegen sat in a hopeless position, but he battled his way through. He arrived to speed at the right time and then was hard to beat.


“Dylan Groenewegen made another step towards being a top level sprinter. He is became stronger this year and is now in top form."


Groenewegen should lose the leader’s jersey tomorrow in the time trial stage, says Zeeman.


"It will be the turn of the time trial specialists, but on Wednesday, we have another chance with Groenewegen."


Sagan pleased with third place after late arrival for the Eneco Tour

After flying in late last night to make the start of the final WorldTour stage race of the season, Peter Sagan was close to picking up where he left off yesterday in Brittany on the opening stage of the Eneco Tour. In what’s expected to be the first of several sprint showdowns in the race, the newly crowned European and World champion took third in a frantic bunch finish in Bolsward, the Netherlands.


With a late catch of the day’s break, the scene was set for a fast finish, but on the large open, straight roads running into the finish there was a lot of movement and it became a case of every sprinter for himself at the end. Biding his time, Sagan, as usual, managed to find the right wheel and came up just short of a second win in two days.


After the race, he told:


“I knew the stage would have a complicated bunch finish because everybody wanted to be at the front to sprint. I gave my best throughout the day and in the final sprint so I am happy with the result. Congratulations to the winner who got the best out of the tight finish.”

The first stage of the week-long race got off to a steady start with five riders pulling clear from the start, and the peloton was happy to allow the gap to grow. However, with a probable sprint on the cards, the bunch was still eager to keep the break in check, and the gap never grew over four mintues. Tinkoff was focused on staying calm and looking after Sagan in the wheels, with the goal of getting him into position for the finish.


The gap dropped steadily throughout the stage and even extended slightly when a crash caused some panic in the peloton, however the catch always looked likely and came with three kilometres to go. From here in it was a fairly straight forward sprint, but a busy one with lots of riders in contention, as Sport Director Tristan Hoffman explained.


“If you look to the line-up here I think every team brought a sprinter so it was always going to be tough. But Peter did a good sprint at the end for third place. From kilometre zero we had five guys in front and other teams worked to get them back. We came up later on and the guys kept Peter in a good position. At the end he stayed on the right wheel but couldn’t come around.


“There was no wind today, so it was not too crazy, and when it got nervous the guys moved up in the right movement and stayed out of trouble which was good. Now we can focus on tomorrow’s time trial, but first we have a long transfer this evening and then we will look at the route in the morning before racing in the afternoon.”


The first of two time trials, with a team effort later in the week, will cover 9.6km around Breda on a course that suits the powerful specialists. It will be a day for Maciej Bodnar to test himself and it will also see the first shake up in GC.


Boasson Hagen: I had to go early to surprise the faster riders

Edvald Boasson Hagen was one place of the podium, taking 4th place at the line for Dimension Data.


Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were riding for our Norwegian champion, Edvald Boasson Hagen. From 10km to go the African Team’s presence was noted around the head of the peloton. Bernie Eisel, Nathan Haas and Tyler Farrar were all riding to place Boasson Hagen in prime position from where to launch a sprint. Going under the 3km to go banner the break was caught and the stage win and first leaders jersey was up for grabs. After a final solid turn from Eisel, Boasson Hagen took the wheel of countryman, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).


With more favoured big bunch sprinters present, Boasson Hagen hit out early and his tactic almost paid dividends. Boasson Hagen had his nose in front right up until the final 50m whereby Groenewegen, Bouhanni and Sagan where just able to come back over the Norwegian strongman. It would be 4th place on the stage for Boasson Hagen and 9th on GC, after the break claimed a few bonus seconds on route to the finish.


Edvald Boasson Hagen said:


”It was a good stage today for us and all the guys really looked after me well. Tyler and Bernie were great there in the final and in the sprint I went early to try get a bit ahead of the faster guys. It was a long sprint and a hard sprint, and I ended 4th after a few guys came back to me before the line. I had to go early so I am happy with this start. It is the first stage and I am pleased with how I was feeling.”


Kristoff: Maybe I waited too long

KATUSHA’s leader Alexander Kristoff was in the final mix, fighting for the victory in stage 1 of the Eneco Tour. Kristoff finished 5th, behind the winner, Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen from LottoNL-Jumbo.


”I think the team did a very good job, especially in the last 30 km. Later, in the local laps, everything was good. We were well positioned in the group. At first, Nils Politt did a great job, keeping us in front, later it were Slava Kuznetsov and Marco Haller, who led me into the final kilometers. Actually I had a good position for the sprint, staying out of troubles all the time. Michael Mørkøv did a very good lead-out for me, but maybe I waited a bit too long. It was my first race for some time and I was a bit tired, so I decided to wait. Maybe I had to start my sprint one-two seconds earlier, but it’s hard to say now after the race. Anyway, the team was strong today and there are more days to come, “ said Alexander Kristoff.


Team KATUSHA did a strong race, supporting Alexander Kristoff and leading him into the final sprint. Kristoff started from the wheel of Michael Mørkøv on the left side of the road, but later a few riders passed him.


Nizzolo goes from afar, no fracture for unfortunate Coledan

The Eneco Tour opened with a flat first stage in the Netherlands, and as expected it all culminated in a fast, albeit slightly disorganized bunch sprint.  Giacomo Nizzolo, fresh off winning Coppa Bernocchi last week, was one of the many sprinters discombobulated by the swirling mass of riders roaring into the final kilometers.


 "It was not a regular sprint, but it is always difficult when you have the last four kilometers straight on," pointed out director Dirk Demol. "So Giacomo had to go from quite far, and he finished 6th. Giacomo won a race in Italy already last week, and it’s good to see that he has recovered well from his crash in Britain where he had a small fracture in his elbow.


"It was super-fast – 44km/h average I believe -  and a controlled race all day. Our main mission was to keep Fabio (Felline) and Jasper (Stuyven) out of trouble because these are two cards we can play for the overall. We were lucky on one side that the weather was okay because it was 21 degrees and almost no wind. In this area, the wind could have blown things to pieces."


The five men who escaped in the day's breakaway were kept within a manageable distance and were easily back in the fold with three kilometers to go, a result due mostly to the massive fight for positioning in the peloton.


Nizzolo lost Boy Van Poppel's wheel in the jostling mass, as none of the big lead out trains were able to take control. Over the line Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) was the surprise winner, as Nizzolo crossed in a tight line of sprinters for 6th.


Trek-Segfredo had two riders caught up in late crashes: Stijn Devolder who came out unscathed and Marco Coledan who went down 15 kilometers from the end with a feared fractured wrist. Although Coledan was able to finish, he was on route to the hospital immediately after the race ended for further analysis. X-Rays have determined no fracture in Marco Coledan's wrist and with a brace for support he will take the start of the stage tomorrow.


With six stages remaining that include more sprint chances, an individual time trial scheduled tomorrow, a team time trial Friday, and two Classics-style courses on the weekend the Eneco tour will be a battle between all-rounders.


"It's a super strong field here, not only with sprinters but also with time trial specialists. We will give the best of ourselves in the sprints and time trials, and then last two stages on the weekend suit us the most," continued Demol. "But the finish of stage three is in my home town, and I told the boys already it's the World Championships on Wednesday!"


De Vreese: You never know what can happen

“You never know what can happen so I decided to go in the breakaway,” said Laurens De Vreese at the end of first stage Eneco Tour.


“And then it’s better to ride in front to avoid crahses and the dangers of the narrow streets of the Dutch countryside.”


His teammate Andrea Guardini finished 8th.


Kittel with no room to sprint: It’s a pity because I was feeling great

Marcel Kittel concluded stage 1 in the top 10, three days after being forced to abandon Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen due to stomach problems. It was a good result considering he was blocked in the finishing stretch and couldn't unleash his powerful sprint.


"I was hoping for more, but I can't say I'm disappointed. The stage finale was super fast and hectic, as all the sprinters tried to be at the front. Tom [Boonen] did a great job in protecting me, Matteo [Trentin] was also there, and after their work was done, I jumped from wheel to wheel and took the one of Boasson Hagen. My plan was to sprint with 250 meters to go, but Nizzolo came from the right and brought several riders with him, blocking my way. I had no more space, and it's a real pity, because I was feeling great and still had enough power to do a good sprint", said Marcel Kittel, a former stage winner at the Eneco Tour, before heading to the hotel.


Bono goes for repeat win with long-distance attack in Eneco Tour opener

Sacha Modolo was the main sprinter for LAMPRE-MERIDA and he battled in the massive sprint at the end of the stage: the Italian rider failed to enter in the top ten, obtaining the 11th place. He tried to recover positions in the final 50 meters, however he could only be close to the top 10.

A blue-fuchsia-green rider, Matteo Bono led the race from the start, joining a breakaway with 4 riders. He was caught with 3km to go.

"According to the tactical program, I was one of the riders of the team who had to try to join the attacks in the early part of the stage,” Bono explained. “I followed the first attempt in the first kilometer and the bunch did not react, so we succeeded in going clear from the peloton.

”There was a good cooperation in the breakaway, even if we were aware that it would be very difficult to lead the race until the finish line. I tried to to the best, also remembering how, in 2011, I won a stage in the Eneco Tour thanks to a long brakaway.

”Unfortunatelty, the final kilometers of the course, with long straights, were favourable for the chase of the bunch and we had to surrender.”


Ewan boxed in on first stage at Eneco Tour

Tour of Britain stage winner Caleb Ewan came close on stage one of the Eneco Tourin Holland today, finishing just outside the top ten in 12th place after a chaotic finale led to a closely contested sprint.


ORICA-BikeExchange rode a controlled race throughout, contributing significantly to the chase and catch of the five-man breakaway before positioning Ewan for the finale.


In the end the sprint was a scrappy and chaotic affair that finally spluttered into life after the last corner into the finishing straight.


Around fifteen riders jumped early with Dylan Groenwegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) taking the win and Ewan suffering slightly from being boxed in and


Sport director Laurenzo Lapage was pleased with the overall performance of the team.


“After a hectic finale I’m pleased that all our guys came through without any problems,” said Lapage. “We rode very well today and we strongly held our position at the front over the final third approaching the finish.


“Michael Matthews and Luka Mezgec were second and last man for Caleb (Ewan) in the lead out and they both did an excellent job of setting up Caleb in the final few hundred metres.


“It was a scrappy finish and we didn’t get the opening we were looking for when the sprint started, you also need some luck in the sprints and today we were a little boxed in.”


Degenkolb: We weren’t able to prepare the sprint

John Degenkolb finished 25th. He said:


“The team managed to be in a good position until the last kilometer, but after that, we lost some places and each other in the run-in. It was a very chaotic sprint finish, with many fresh riders aiming for the victory. In the finale, we weren’t able to prepare our sprint, therefore we didn’t get any results today.”


Coach Morten Bennekou added:


“The team had a good feeling today, until the last two kilometers. In the end, it was very hectic with so many riders and sprinters competing in the sprint. Of course, it would have been nice to have a better result, we are just missing that final part and the timing can be improved.


“There was a chance that this stage could be a very tough, stressful day since it was on open roads, but overall it was an easy day, besides the finale where we saw a lot of riders participating in the sprint. Now we look forward to the time trial tomorrow with Tom [Dumoulin] and Søren [Kragh] who are both feeling very good, and of course, there will still be a few more sprint opportunities with John.”


Izagirre stays safe in Eneco Tour opener

Monday marked the start of the penultimate event in the UCI WorldTour, the 12th Eneco Tour. Dylan Groenewegen (TLJ) took a valuable victory against some of the world's best sprinters at the end of a nonetheless uneventful race around Bolsward, Friesland (185km.)


The Movistar Team directed by Chente García Acosta and José Luis Jaimerena perfectly covered Ion Izagirre, their main reference for this seven-day stagerace, and reached the finishing line with all eight riders in the peloton - Dowsett as best in 29th-. A trascendental, 10km ITT takes place in Breda on Tuesday.


No injuries for Van Poppel and Thomas, Kiryienka in the unknown for TT

A crash denied Danny van Poppel the chance to battle it out in a star-studded sprint to kick off the Eneco Tour.


The Dutchman went down and was winded in a pile-up with 15 kilometres to go, yet after receiving medical attention on the ground he was bravely able to remount and finish the stage in the bunch.


Andy Fenn took up the mantle for Team Sky, and after being moved into position by Geraint Thomas the Brit came home just behind the first wave of sprinters in 31st.


Thomas was the next man home, with all team riders with the exception of Lars Petter Nordhaug finishing on the same time as the leader, keeping their powder dry ahead of more selective stages to come. Nordhaug had been caught up in the same crash as Van Poppel but was also able to finish the stage.


Elia Viviani was a late withdrawal on the eve of the race with a fever and was replaced by Ben Swift.


"Danny hit the elbow and also got a kick in the stomach. Therefore he couldn’t breathe. After some time, my rider was back on the bike and he could even rejoin the tail of the peloton. So there is no question of a broken collarbone or broken shoulder," Sports Director Servais Knaven told Het Nieuwsblad


"Geraint Thomas hit the ground and had some chain problems. He has no injuries beyond abrasions. I hope thay he may play a role during the time trial in Breda.


"What can we expect from Vasil Kiryienka? I cannot give a conclusive answer.  After the Olympics, Vasil started to builds towards the World Championship. We have to wait and see even though the distance for him, 9.6 kilometers, is not really ideal. I see chances for Danny van Poppel during the stages on Wednesday and Thursday where we will have bunch sprints.”


Van Avermaet: Everybody stayed around Dennis and me

Stage 1 of the Eneco Tour saw an expected bunch sprint play out in Bolsward after a nervous opening day of racing which saw all of BMC Racing Team’s riders cross the line safely.


Greg Van Avermaet said: 


”It was a hectic and nervous day. We just tried to stay safe and not lose any seconds which is what happened so that’s good. Everybody stayed around Rohan and I. We were a little bit towards the back but this was the most-safe speed and place for us today.”


Stefan Küng added: 


“It was good to be back out there in the peloton after my crash. Although it’s been three months since I last raced it didn’t feel like that as soon as I was out there. It was quite an easy day for us in the peloton in the lead up to the bunch sprint.”


Sports director Fabio Baldato said:


“Today went exactly as planned for us. We were never going to contest the sprint so it was all about crossing the line safely, which we did. I was really nervous watching that final kilometer as it was a hectic sprint. The real race starts tomorrow with the individual time trial. It was a good chance for the guys to warm their legs up today and now we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”



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