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Czech latches onto a late break created by Roelandts as Greipel opens up a gap before outsprinting Richeze and Boom to take the win with the latter moving to 2nd just 1 second behind race leader Demare

Photo: Sirotti

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14.08.2013 @ 17:01 Posted by Adam Aisen

For the second time in just three days of racing the usually sprinter-friendly Eneco Tour, the sprinters were denied the win by a late move that managed to keep the peloton at bay all the way to the line. Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was the fastest of the three riders that stayed clear and took a beautiful stage win ahead of Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre) while Lars Boom (Belkin) took third to move into 2nd on GC, just 1 second behind race leader Arnaud Demare (FDJ) who defended his jersey on a windy day.

 

The pure sprinters usually have plenty of opportunities in the Eneco Tour but until now the race hasn't gone their way. On the first stage they were denied by a wily move by Mark Renshaw (Belkin) and today they were once again surprised by a late break that ended up deciding the stage.

 

The big winner was Zdenek Stybar who stayed attentive when Jurgen Roelandts tried to lead-out his Lotto-Belisol captain Andre Greipel for the sprint with a little more than one kilometre to go. Knowing that it was too early to hit the front, the German slowed down and thus opened up a gap to his Belgian teammate.

 

Richeze was the first to react and got into Roelandts' wheel while Stybar followed a little later. As the peloton slowed down, defending champion Lars Boom saw an opportunity and bridged across to the front trio in which Roelandts was still doing all the work, not having realized what had happened behind him.

 

With a little less than 5km to go, he finally looked back, only to find out that he had drawn three fast riders clear of his captain. Having used up all his energy, he fell back to the main group while Boom made an acceleration to gain as much time as possible on GC.

 

Richeze and Stybar benefited from that before going head-to-head in a direct battle for the stage win. Richeze was the first to kick but Stybar surprised by coming around the sprinter to take his second ever WorldTour win one year after his win in the Cieszyn stage of the Tour de Pologne.

 

The front trio finished 2 seconds ahead of the peloton and as Boom gained 4 bonus seconds for taking 3rd, he moved to within 1 second of race leader Arnaud Demare who was nowhere to be seen in the final sprint. Giacomo Nizzolo (Radioshack) beat Greipel in the sprint for 4th.

 

Demare now takes his narrow lead into tomorrow's fourth stage which is the final opportunity for the sprinters in this year's race. With Tyler Farrar (Garmin) and Greipel both within 10 seconds of the race leader, Demare may lose the jersey tomorrow by virtue of bonus seconds.

 

A windy stage

The 187,3km stage from Oosterhout to Brouwersdam was the first on Dutch soil and brought the riders into the very windy Zeeland region. With two laps on a finishing circuit near the coast and a finish on a tongue in the North Sea, the stage was feared by many as one that could do a lot of damage despite its flat profile.

 

There was, however, not much drama in the first part of the stage as four riders were allowed to go clear on the headwind stretch towards the sea. Alex Rasmussen (Garmin), Eloy Teruel (Movistar), Axel Domont (Ag2r) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport) were allowed to build up a gap that reached almost 6 minutes before the peloton started to chase.

 

The peloton splits up

For a long time, the gap stayed at around the 5-minute mark but when the peloton reached the coast, the tension increased. A first split in the crosswinds happened with about 100km to go but it was ultimately brought back together. The acceleration had, however, seen the gap drop down to just 1.30 when the breakaway crossed the finish line to start the first of the two laps on the 32,7km finishing circuit.

 

FDJ had been quietly rolling along on the front in a calm moment but all hell broke loose just before the first passage of the line. Omega Pharma-Quick Step decided to accelerate in a section with crosswinds and Niki Terpstra, Sylvain Chavanel, Kevin De Weert, Gert Steegmans, Alessandro Petacchi and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck all took turns on the front as they tried to split up the group.

 

The peloton splits again

Their mission was successful as the peloton broke into at least 4 groups with just around 30 riders staying in the first one. Sebastian Langeveld (Orica-GreenEdge), Greipel, Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Demare, Boom, Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and Roelandts were some of the riders that had stayed attentive and made it into the first group alongside the Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders.

 

The fierce pace meant that the breakaway was reeled in with 61km to go while Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma-Quick Step did their best to keep the move going. Behind, a big peloton had formed and Radioshack, BMC and Orica-GreenEdge had combined forces to bring everything back together as Taylor Phinney (BMC), Jan Bakelants (Radioshack) and all the Orica GC riders have missed the split, Langeveld being the major exception.

 

Back together

The front group was unable to match those three powerful teams and with 57km to go, it was all back together. As the riders now were in a section with tailwind, they slowed down, allowing numerous group to latch onto the back of the peloton.

 

Wallays exploited the lull to attack again and a few moments later his teammate, sprints leader Laurens De Vreese, tried to bridge across. With the first Primus sprint coming up, Wallays waited for his teammate, thus allowing him to pick up maximum points.

 

Calmness in the peloton

Behind, the FDJ team of race leader Demare was back in control of the peloton which had now calmed down and they combined forces with Lotto-Belisol who were intent on bringing it back together for a bunch sprint. However, the pace was not overly high as the front duo managed to built up a 50-second gap.

 

As the peloton approached the second passage of the finish line, the tension once again increased with Garmin - who had completely missed out in the first split - hitting the front. They were overtaken by Orica-GreenEdge and it was that team's Daryl Impey who led the peloton into the crucial corner that had proved decisive last time.

 

Another attack in the crosswinds

Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma-Quick Step both tried to split things up and for a moment, it appeared as though gaps were opening. However, it all stayed together and instead Greipel sprinted to pick up 1 bonus second in the final intermediate sprint.

 

Just after the line, De Vreese decided to sit up and he fell back into the peloton which had once again calmed down, allowing FDJ.fr to once again assume control. For a long time, Arnold Jeannesson and David Boucher swapped turns on the front while all the big teams stayed attentive near the front.

 

Wallays is caught

As the peloton got closer to the finish, the battle for position increased in intensity and so the pace automatically ramped up. With 17km to go, it was all over for Wallays and a sprint finish appeared to be the likely outcome.

 

For a long time, BMC, Astana, Belkin, FDJ, Saxo-Tinkoff and BMC all had trains riding alongside each other on the front until Garmin finally took over with 8km to go. Moments later, Lotto-Belisol assumed their position on the front with Sander Cordeel, Gert Dockx, Frederik Willems and TIim Wellens doing the early work.

 

Way too early, the team had to use up Jens Debuscherre and when the Argos train tried to move up inside the final 3km, the team had to sacrifice Jonas Vangenecten to keep the Dutchmen at bay. They remained in control and got a little assistance when Davide Vigano briefly took over with teammate Richeze in his wheel. That was when Roelandts decided it was time to make an early lead-out, thus setting up the highly unexpected finish.

 

Result:

1. Zdenek Stybar 4.13.59

2. Ariel Maximiliano Richeze

3. Lars Boom

4. Giacomo Nizzolo +0.02

5. Andre Greipel

6. Manuel Belletti

7. Danilo Napolitano

8. Alexander Porsev

9. Davide Appollonio

10. Jose Joaquin Rojas

 

General classification:

1. Arnaud Demare 12.18.42

2. Lars Boom +0.01

3. Zdenek Stybar +0.03

4. Mark Renshaw

5. Philippe Gilbert +0.04

6. Tyler Farrar +0.06

7. Andre Greipel +0.08

8. Taylor Phinney

9. Alessandro Petacchi +0.10

10. Jean-Pierre Drucker

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