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Having been on the back foot all day, Giant-Alpecin managed to catch a strong breakaway less than 5km from the finish before setting Sinkeldam up for the win in the cobbled uphill finale; Ligthart and Van Asbroeck rounded out the top 3

Photo: A.S.O.

MEMORIAL FRANK VANDENBROUCKE

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PIM LIGTHART

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RAMON SINKELDAM

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM VAN ASBROECK

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06.10.2015 @ 17:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ramon Sinkeldam became a surprise winner of the Binche-Chimay-Binche after his Giant-Alpecin had been on the back foot all day in a very aggressive and highly entertaining edition of the Belgian semi-classic. After a strong break had been caught less than 5km from the finish, he got a small gap in the final turn on the uphill finishing straight and managed to hold off the chasing Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal) to take the win. Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) completed the podium.

 

Going into the Belgian semi-classic Binche-Chimay-Binche, most attention was focused on Lotto Soudal, Etixx-QuickStep and LottoNL-Jumbo who all lined up some of their best classics riders for the cobbled uphill finish in Chimay. Giant-Alpecin were without last year’s runner-up John Degenkolb and arrived with a team of outsiders.

 

That was evident throughout the entire race that turned out to be a highly entertaining, aggressive elimination race. While the favourites animated the race and rode strongly in breakaways, Giant-Alpecin missed all the moves and were never really in contention.

 

At one point, there were riders all over the road and a sprint finish seemed very unlikely but when several teams finally combined forces, they managed to bring it all back together less than 5km from the finish and suddenly Giant-Alpecin again had a shot.

 

Surprisingly, their sprinter Ramon Sinkeldam did what Degenkolb failed to do 12 months ago as he powered up the cobbled finish to get a small gap in the final turn. Showing impressive strength, he held off the desperate chase of Pim Ligthart and so took his first classics win.

 

Wind and rain had split the peloton into several groups early on and riders like Jens Debusschere, Gianni Meersman and Zdenek Stybar had completely missed out, abandoning when they reached the finish line to start the first lap of four on the 16.2km finishing circuit. At this point, 12 riders from the early break were still clear but during the first lap, they were caught by a first chase group of 35 riders which was followed by a second group that was led by a desperate Sep Vanmarcke and also included Jonas Van Genechten.

 

As they went up the finishing straight, Florian Senechal (Cofidis) attacked and was joined by Christophe Premont (Verandas) after he had crossed the line. However, the pair were passed by a very strong Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) who went full gas. Paul Martens (LottoNL-Jumbo) tried to follow but was simply ridden off the wheel.

 

Terpstra quickly got an advantage of 20 seconds over the peloton which brought back Senechal, Martens and Premont. However, there was no cooperation and the gap had gone out to 45 seconds  with 45km to go.

 

Premont was one of many riders to try to go clear but was closely marked by Terpstra’s teammate Nikolas Maes. Boris Vallee (Lotto Soudal) was the next to try and then Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) gave it a go.

 

Premont finally managed to get a gap and was quickly joined by Max Wahlscheid (Giant-Alpecin), Jetse Bol (De Rijke) and Michael Gogl (Tinkoff-Saxo) to form a chase quartet. Meanwhile, Vanmarcke was going full gas and made his group split to pieces.

 

Terpsra crossed the finish line to start the penultimate lap with a 45-second advantage over his four chasers who had been joined by Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal), Maes and the Wanty pair of Marco Marcato and Roy Jans as they went up the finishing straight. Here the Vanmarcke group finally made the junction and the Belgian went straight to the front to lead the chase.

 

Maarten Wynants (LottoNL) and Pim Ligthart were the next to make the junction with the chase group before Wesley Kreder (Roompot) and Bodnar also made it across. Wahlscheid was dropped, leaving just 11 riders to chase behind the lone Terpstra.

 

Vanmarcke tried to join the group with a solo move and Wynants dropped back to help him make the junction. Just as he did, the group split to pieces and the Belgian was again dropped. Only Roelandts, Ligthart, Maes, Wynants, Bodnar and Premont survived while Vanmarcke found himself with Gogl, Bol and Kreder a little further back. The rest of the group was caught.

 

With 25km to go, the six chasers were 50 seconds behind while the peloton was at 1.20. IAM had started to chase and later got some help from Giant-Alpecin.

 

The lone Dutchman was starting to fade and only had 25 seconds with 22km to go where the peloton was at 1.10. However, Roompot was now also chasing and with three teams working hard, they brought the Vanmarcke quartet back.

 

At the start of the final lap, the gaps were still 25 seconds and 1.10 respectively but the trend changed when LottoNL also started to chase in the peloton despite having Wynants in the chase group. That group failed to make much inroad and was still 20 seconds behind with 12km to go.

 

At this point, the peloton was at 40 seconds and it was an organized chase with the likes of Twan Castelijns, Martens, Bert De Backer and Jos van Emden all working hard. Gert Joeaar (Cofidis) and Wanty also came to the fore and as they turned into a headwind, the balance was clearly tipping towards the peloton.

 

With 8km to go, the gaps were 10 and 20 seconds respectively and one kilometre later, Terpstra was caught by the chasers. Roelandts immediately made a strong move and managed to drag Maes and Wynants along. However, he didn’t get any help and so the septet was back together with 6km to go.

 

Ligthart was the next to give it a try but with 4km to go, the peloton was just metres behind, led by Wanty. That small gap proved to be hard to close and Roelandts managed to get a small advantage.

 

The chasers were caught with 3km to go and with 1.5km to go, Roelandts was about to be brought back as Terpstra was now working on the front. Giant-Alpecin took over with Roy Curvers before Nikolay Trusov took over for Tinkoff-Saxo and led the group under the flamme rouge where Roelandts was caught.

 

When the Russian swung off, Sinkeldam found himself in front at what looked to be way too early but as he rode hard through a turn with 500m to go, he suddenly got a gap. Ligthart also got clear in lone pursuit while the peloton was led by sprinters who were unwilling to start their sprint too early.

 

Sinkeldam was not looking back and so he managed to ride away to an impressive solo win. Ligthart had to settle for second while Tom Van Asbroeck narrowly beat Jonas Van Genechten in the sprint for third.

 

Binche-Chimay-Binche was the penultimate race on the Belgian calendar. Next up is Tuesday’s Nationale Sluitingsprijs but before we get to the finale, many of the riders from today’s race will travel to France for Thursday’s Paris-Bourges and Sunday’s big classic, Paris-Tours.

 

A cobbled finish

The 2015 Binche-Chimay-Binche was held on a 194.5km course that brought the riders from Binche to Chimay and back to a finish in Binche. The first part was lumpy but it was the final four laps of the 16.2km finishing circuit that were set to decide the race. The circuit included an uphill finish with two cobbled sections, making it a perfect race for classics specialists.

 

It was a rainy day when the riders gathered for the start of the Belgian semi-classic and they got the race off to a fast opening phase. The attacking resulted in the formation of a 15-rider group that included Boris Vallee (Lotto-Soudal), Iljo Keisse (Etixx-QuickStep), Michael Kolar (Tinkoff-Saxo), Paul Martens (LottoNL-Jumbo), Simon Pellaud (IAM), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen), Kevin van Melsen (Wanty), Louis Verhelst (Cofidis), Antoine Warnier (Wallonie), Alphonse Vermote, Dennis Coenen (Vastgoedservice), Chirstophe Premont and Dries De Bondt (Verandas Willems).

 

The peloton splits

The peloton managed to build an advantage of three minutes before the peloton hit a windy section. As a consequence, the peloton split in two, with a 35-rider first chase group being formed. Sondre Holst Enger, Marcel Aregger (IAM), Matti Bresshel, Bodnar, Gogl, Trusov (Tinkoff-Saxo), Stig Broeckx, Ligthart, Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) Florian Senechal (Cofidis), Kreder (Roompot), Wynants (LottoNL), Fredrik Ludvigsson, Wahlscheid (Giant-Alpecin), Tim Declercq (Topsport), and the Wanty quartet of Roy Jans, Marco Marcato, Jerome Baugnies and Frederik Veuchelen had all made the selection. Vanmarcke found himself with the likes of Van Genechten, Castelijns, Edward Theuns and Pavel Brutt in a third group.

 

After almost two hours of racing, the first group was three minutes behind while the peloton was at 4.30. However, it was the first group that was chasing hardest and with 100km to go, they had reduced their deficit to a minute while the peloton was at 4.05. That group included Stybar, Debusschere and Meersman and quickly gave up.

 

The chasers get closer

The chasers brought the gap down to 25 seconds before they started to lose ground. Meanwhile, a few riders were dropped from the front, leaving just Vallee, Kolar, Martens, Pellaud, Van Hecke, Van Melsen, Verhelst, Warnier, Vermote, Premont and De Bondt to press on with 80km to go. At this point, the gap had gone out to 55 seconds.

 

Trusov, Gogl and Broeckx were doing most of the work in the second group but they were not getting much closer as the cooperation was pretty bad. At the start of the first lap, the gap was still 50 seconds. Veuchelen led the second group across the line while the Vanmarcke group was at 2.40.

 

The attacking starts

The attacking started in the chase group when a Roompot rider and Wahlscheid took off with 60km to go, Marcato, Broeckx, Rayane Bouhanni, Wynants and more riders joined the move and the group split I tow as Roelandts, Breshel, Marcato, Jans, Terpstra and Trusov were among several riders to also make the junction.

 

There was no cooperation in the front group as De Bondt tried to make an unsuccessful solo move and so the first chase group was just 15 seconds behind with 58km to go. At this point, the chase group came back together and was trailing by 20 seconds.

 

Senechal, Brian van Goethem and Bol were the first riders to make it across to the leaders and later Koen De Kort (Giant-Alpecin) also bridged the gap. De Winter, Trusov and Gogl were all in a small group that also made the junction before Marcato finally brought the rest of the group back as they went up the finishing straight at the end of the first lap. Moments later, Senechal took off and from there the exciting and entertaining finale unfolded.

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